White Republican Says Black Kids Have 'Lack Of Respect For Learning'


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A white Indiana state lawmaker offered an apology after saying low test scores were caused by Black kids' "lack of respect for learning."

State Rep. Bob Behning, who is the chair of the House Education Committee, apologized in the state legislature Monday (February 28) for the "hurtful" comments he made about Black students the week before, according local outlet WTHR.

"I want to begin by sending an apology for any hurtful comments I might have said, I did say, last week in the education committee," Behning said.

The GOP member made the comments while defending HB 1251, a state bill that would make changes to education standards across the state. Behning noted that only 3% of Black students in Indianapolis Public Schools passed the math and English sections of the ILearn state exam.

"I would suggest that part of the problem is, and there's a number of things, poverty impacts that for sure, having respect for learning," Behning said. "All of, there's a lot of things that come into play."

The Indianapolis National Urban League told WTHR that Behning's apology isn't enough.

"We don't believe the apology is sufficient because it's not grounded in action," Mark Russell, advocacy director of the group told the outlet in a phone interview.

Behning said he "should have been more clear in stating what I truly believe to be the biggest obstacles to improving our children's academic performance."

"I sincerely regret my remarks have been so hurtful to others, and I apologize for it," the statement added.

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