Writing in Tuesday’s Wall Street Journal, Jason Riley says it is long past time we allow classroom teachers to cease worrying about students’ race when it comes to administering discipline.
The Obama Department of Education, led by its Office for Civil Rights, had acted on the premise of “disparate impact” under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act — that even objective application of discipline rules are “discriminatory” if the percentage of minorities punished is greater than the school demographic.
While such has led to a numerical reduction in detentions and suspensions, it also has created more chaos in school hallways and classrooms.
Riley points to a recent report by the Manhattan Institute’s Max Eden which details the “change for the worse in school order”:
[Eden] notes that 27 states and more than 50 of the country’s largest school districts have moved to reduce suspensions in recent years, often to the dismay of those on the front lines. A Chicago teacher said her school became “lawless” after the new discipline policy was implemented. A teacher in Oklahoma City said “we were told that referrals would not require suspension unless there was blood.” A Buffalo teacher who was kicked in the head by a student said his charges are well aware of the new policy. “The kids walk around and say ‘We can’t get suspended—we don’t care what you say.’ ” …
Following the implementation of [Mayor Bill de Blasio’s] reforms, school suspensions in New York fell by nearly 50%, but survey data of students, teachers and parents show that the learning climate in many schools has suffered. Moreover, the effects of the new policies haven’t been evenly distributed, especially under the current mayor, writes Mr. Eden. “Under de Blasio’s discipline reform, of schools that serve 90+% minority students, nearly 60% saw a deterioration in mutual student respect, about 50% saw a deterioration in student-reported physical fighting, more than 40% saw a deterioration in teacher-reported order and discipline, and nearly 40% saw an increase in student-reported drug and alcohol use and gang activity.” Overall, fighting, gang activity and drug use worsened at three times as many schools as saw an improvement.
Riley notes that Eden’s report won’t sway progressives who believe that racism is behind virtually every numerical disparity, but it shines sunlight on how they “place the welfare of bullies and thugs above the welfare of kids who are in school to learn.”
He also points out (like former DoE Office for Civil Rights attorney Hans Bader) that racial disparities inside a school’s walls mirror those of outside — “unless you believe that all antisocial behavior begins after graduation.”
Riley concludes by asking why the Trump administration is taking so long in eliminating its predecessor’s rules.