Five years ago (January 8, 2014 to be exact), with then-President Obama the driving force behind it, “The U.S. Department of Education (ED), in collaboration with the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), today released a school discipline guidance package that will assist states, districts and schools in developing practices and strategies to enhance school climate, and ensure those policies and practices comply with federal law.”
The actual purpose of this “guidance package” – at least as I see it? Since minority students are suspended in appreciably greater numbers than White students, we want to see those numbers equalized. And one way to do it is to ignore many of the behaviors that occur more frequently among minority students which cause said suspensions and expulsions. So that’s what we’re going to do: ignore them. So you teachers better think twice, and twice more, before you recommend any suspensions or expulsions, or you’ll have a lot of explaining to do – and you better hope we like your answers.”
In other words, President Obama’s “guidance package” moved the onus from the allegedly disruptive students to the teachers.
Let me stop here, and note that I have no doubt there are teachers with personal prejudices who have it in for minorities. I don’t know how many there are and how far any individual teacher might go to “get” such students (neither do you), but, yes, I know they exist.
However, I also know there are minority students who are disruptive, even violent in class. And I have no doubt that giving them a free pass/keeping them in those classes is a virtual guarantee that little or no learning will take place – even among students, regardless of their race or ethnicity, who want to learn.
Now, having pointed out that there are two sides to this story, I will tell you that, as of December, 2018, the Trump administration rescinded the Obama era guidelines.
Here, via Evie blad’s article at edweek.com is a reasonably even-handed explanation of how both supporters and critics of the guidelines viewed their results.
And here, via Robert Kraychik’s article at breitbart.com, is how U.S. Commission on Civil Rights member Peter Kirsanow characterizes the results of this five year initiative.
A few key highlights:
Rather than reduce the volume of unacceptable student behaviors, continued Kirsanow, schools implemented racial and ethnic quotas in disciplinary policies to achieve the Obama administration’s policy goals:
So a lot of school districts — in fact, each of the 53 largest — implemented a plan whereby they, frankly, just equalized the suspension rates. They took the easy way out as opposed to trying to see if they could reduce the offenses being committed.
The last hearing we had on this was about a year ago, and we had a number of experts testify with respect to the percentage increase and it’s been startling. In 2016 alone, 1,000 more violent physical assaults occurred per day nationwide than in the previous year, and it’s been going up since that time.
In fact, there were 130,000 fewer student expelled in 2016, and 160,000 more violent acts. It’s almost as if you could a graph to show the intersection between the spike in violent incidents –and it’s not just violence, there are things like graffiti, vandalism, acting up in class, disrupting class — but the [increases in] violent instances of disciplinary behavior were astonishing, and you could see the rise in those types of behaviors in direct contrast to the drop in the number of suspensions at the relative schools.
Does this in any way surprise you?
Is it not logical that students who are empowered to behave this way will do so?
Does it not logically follow that students who might be on the margin, and could go either way, are more likely to act out in class because they know there will be no price to pay for it?
And here is the part Obama and his people, astonishingly, entirely missed: who are the victims?
Ironically the biggest victims are the minority students this incredibly misbegotten “guidance package” was supposed to benefit.
Let’s start by discussing minority students who want an education – and do not doubt that there are a great many of them – in primarily minority schools.
Allowing the disruptors to remain in class effectively ends their ability to learn, to accumulate knowledge. This puts them all at a disadvantage right from the start.
And even in mixed schools, minority students who want to learn are hurt most because, in aggregate, White parents are more likely to have the means to remove their children from those schools.
And, as pointed out before, giving disruptive, even violent, minority “students” a free pass in schools is an inducement to move children who are on the fence about behaving this way toward the disruptive side. Hey, since nobody is going to do anything about it, why not join in the fun?
Therefore, as I am sure you already know, I strongly support removal of the Obama era “guidance package”, and hope the reinstatement of sanity will result in less violence, less disruption, and more learning in public schools.
Let’s all keep our fingers crossed that this is precisely what will happen.