His manner suggested an unspoken complicity with the carers - among whom racial minorities were well-represented - on the subject of the use of these chemicals. Until someone told him that black people suspected that the liberal attitude to drugs was a strategy to keep their kind down.
The official information suggests that the picture is more complex - that educational underachievement may have more to do with child poverty - see Figure 14 (p.49) here, where eligibility for Free School Meals (FSM) correlates with lower academic scores.
So there seems to be more than simply poverty - or simply drugs, though the poor are more likely to take them - holding back that last group. Perhaps, then, there should be more specific affirmative action to boost the ambition and achievements of Black Caribbean boys.
But for the poor generally, maybe it would help them to stop being cool about drugs and light-touch policing in deprived areas. When people are in the pit they turn for comfort to things that keep them in it. Our government has spent a long time liberalising the use of alcohol and gambling - that is to say, giving powerful commercial interests free rein to exploit the disadvantaged. Drugs seem to be next.
Is that kind of laissez-faire a form of what Marcuse called "repressive tolerance"?