Monday, March 04, 2019

Obama-Era School Discipline Guidelines Made Things Worse

Anyone with at least half a brain could figure out that if you relax disciplinary standards in schools, students will behave worse.  Why wouldn't they?  If you knew you weren't going to get speeding tickets anymore, would you watch your speed at all?

This paper gives us specifics:

On March 8, 2010, one year into the Obama Administration, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan gave a passionate speech in which he asserted (correctly) that African-American students are the subjects of school discipline at higher rates than white students. Although he did not mention it, it is also true that white students are the subjects of school discipline at higher rates than Asian American students and that male students are disciplined at higher rates than female students.

In response to the racial disparity he identified, Duncan promised that the Department of Education would be stepping up its enforcement of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. In the years that followed, the Department of Education made good on that promise by opening numerous investigations based on statistical disparities. On January 18, 2014, the Department of Education and the Department of Justice jointly issued a “Dear Colleague Letter” on school discipline in which they asserted that the law prohibits not only actual discrimination in discipline on the basis of race, but also what they called “unjustified” disparate impact.

In Part I of this article, we point out that there are two sides to the “disparate impact” coin. The Department of Education has focused only upon the fact that, as a group, African-American students are suspended and expelled more often than other students. By failing to consider the other side of the coin — that African-American students may be disproportionately victimized by disorderly classrooms — its policy threatens to do more harm than good even for the group Secretary Duncan was trying to help. In Part II, we discuss the Department of Education’s enforcement policy toward school discipline in greater detail, its over-reliance on racial disparate impact, and how that over-reliance pushes some schools to violate Title VI’s ban on race discrimination rather than honor it. In Part III, we elaborate on why school discipline is important and present evidence that the Department of Education’s policy has contributed to the problem of disorderly classrooms, especially in schools with high minority student enrollment. In Part IV, we discuss how aggregate racial disparities in discipline do not in themselves show the discrimination against African Americans, Hispanics, and American Indians that some proponents of the Department of Education’s policy claim. Rather, the evidence shows that they are the result of differences in behavior. In Part V, we explain why the Department of Education’s disparate impact policy is not just wrong-headed, but also unauthorized by law.
A wise man once said that the way to stop discrimination on the basis of race is to stop discriminating on the basis of race.  Obama, Holder, and Duncan really screwed things up by trying to "fix" a problem that they had misinterpreted.


Ellen K said...

The unwillingness to tell students they cannot behave like hellions has bred an ongoing atmosphere of peril. I spend far too much time arguing over basic rules like not blocking doorways, picking up trash and paying attention which are not enforced by administrators over fear of legal trouble.

Anonymous said...

I am betting that a non-trivial number of the worst and most chronic behavior problems, especially at the HS level, have arrest records, active warrants, prior juvenile detention etc, for offenses out of school. Common sense leads one to the conclusion that the kids refusing to obey the rules in school are the same ones who break the law outside of it. In fact, in a recent article about police presence near schools, an argument was made that it would deter some kids from coming to school because they were afraid the police would notice them. I wonder why that might be the case?

Auntie Ann said...

When I think of the current civil rights movement (which seems dominated by groups like BLM) the focus on protecting the destroyers, instead of protecting the victims, angers me the most. So much of the screeching is in response to the friction between police and thugs. The loudest of today's voices never talk about victims. (And yes, the police are sometimes murderous thugs themselves.)

It was the focus on victims that brought about the disparate sentencing between crack crimes and powdered coke crimes. Yes, powder is the same thing, but the effect of powder sales in the white community was not causing drive by shootings, and parents in the white community did not feel it necessary to put their children to bed in bathtubs to protect them from stray rounds. It was the black community that called for stricter sentencing in an attempt to win some peace on the streets.

Today, there are voices speaking for the victims, often *actual* people in the community and not external "organizers", often churches and ministers are trying to be heard. But I'm afraid no one is listening.

David said...

There are 440 entries under Obama, but I could find no label for Trump. Have you not discussed the President and his plocies?

Darren said...

I post on what *I* would like to post about.

Do you have a comment about the specifics of this post?