there were swastikas everywhere,
on posters, classroom walls, halls, and restrooms in Pine Bush Central School District in New York State. One student was pinned down in 2013 and had a swastika drawn on her face while other students have been pelted with coins and derogatory names. Students have allegedly chanted, "white power" while raising their arm in a Nazi Salute. All troubling in a city that was once home to a 1970's resurgence of the Ku Klux Klan and its grand dragon. [Picture courtesy of Education News.]
"I actually started to hate myself for being Jewish,” D.C., a Pine Bush High School graduate who now attends college, said in an interview with the New York Times. Studies show that students who are bullied are likely to do worse in school and suffer with issues of depression. Bullying takes a toll.
But residents maintain that Pine Bush is a sweet town and ought not be judged by the small-minded actions of a few. While the allegations have freed some to talk about the oppression they've experienced in Pine Bush, others deny the issues. "No one threw coins at the F---ing Jews!" one student responded to the New York Times article, a response picked up by the Village Voice.
The problem, Jewish parents alleged in a lawsuit, is that the school district has been slow to take a stand and often unresponsive. Philip Steinberg, the District's Superintendent at the time, suggested that troubled families move from the district, adding, "How do you undo years of inbred prejudice?" That is the issue, says attorney Adele Kimmel in the Public Justice Blog.
"How is prejudice inbred? What’s the gene for that?"
asks Kimmel. "Schools can’t turn a blind eye when students act on those prejudices and torment their peers with hate crimes."
In 2015, the Pine Bush School District of New York agreed to a $4.48 million settlement that included major reforms that presiding Judge Karas will oversee for 3-years in order to ensure the agreement's enforcement, writes the Times of Israel.
The reforms are expected to be a “blueprint for what schools across the country should do to prevent and address bullying,” notes Education News. Is Pine Bush an anomaly or the norm? A 2015 Anti-Semitism Report, published by Trinity College in Hartford Connecticut, found that 54% of Jewish students reported experiencing or witnessing anti-Semitism on college campuses. The study by Barry Kosmin and Ariela Keysar included 1157 Jewish students on 55 campuses. Their results are statistically significant, asking us to take seriously ongoing anti-Semitism.
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