Education Reform Expert Warns ADL Report on Spike in Antisemitism at K-12 Schools Might Be ‘Misleading’
A US education reform expert cautioned on Monday that a new report claiming a 106 percent spike last year in antisemitism at the country’s K-12 “non-denominational” grade schools might be “overstated and misleading.”
Jay P. Greene — a professor of education policy and head of the department of education reform at the University of Arkansas — told The Algemeiner that readers of the Anti-Defamation League’s (ADL) 2016 “Audit of Anti-Semitic Incidents” should be wary “about concluding that there has been such a dramatic increase in antisemitism in [lower] schools.”
The data, Greene said, was “based on a low count [of incidents]” — the ADL’s 106 percent increase represents 235 incidents in 2016, up from 114 in 2015 — and was likely “distorted by an increasing willingness to report problems,” rather than an actual rise in anti-Jewish episodes.
“Keeping in mind that we have almost 50 million students in public schools in almost 100,000 schools in the US, even a report of 235 incidents may not be very high,” he added.
Greene — who co-authored a 2015 report for the American Enterprise Institute in which he concluded that there was a “reduction in anti-Semitism associated with private schooling [vs public]” — noted that he believes “antisemitism stemming from schooling is a real problem, but it is probably not that volatile from year to year [as the ADL data suggests].”
He added that the ADL report could help encourage American Jews to “be more open to expanding private school choice.”
“We have trusted public schools far too much to protect us when we the evidence suggests that these local governmental institutions are not reliable partners in combating antisemitism,” he said. “Private institutions are often more reliable partners…because of the shared respect for religious traditions and identities.”
The ADL report also concluded that “[i]ncidents on college campuses remained mostly flat” last year, a day after Tel Aviv University’s (TAU) Kantor Center contended there was “45% increase in antisemitism of all forms” on US campuses in its annual “Antisemitism Worldwide” report.
A spokesperson for the ADL said the discrepancy between the reports was due to Kantor’s inclusion of “cases of anti-Israel political speech in its tally of antisemitic incidents on campus,” which the ADL excludes.
Public school antisemitism incidents that have already occurred in 2017 include an upstate New York high school teacher giving students a critical-thinking assignment to role-play as Nazis debating the “Final Solution” and a California public high school being repeatedly graffitied with swastikas and the phrase “Toasted Jew.”