Surprise! Obama’s attempt to create school suspension quotas causes problems

Charles Fain Lehman of the Washington Free Beacon details results of a disturbing new study.

A new study from the Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty (WILL) casts doubt on the success of an Obama-era guidance meant to reduce racial disparity in school suspensions, arguing that it did not always reduce racial disparity, confused causes of suspensions, and may not be in the best interest of teachers.

The study, which focuses on Wisconsin schools, found a 41 percent decline in suspensions since 2007-2008. The racial disparity has closed some statewide, but has remained essentially unchanged in Milwaukee Public Schools, where half of all African-American students in the state are educated. …

… The study concludes that suspension rates began to decline at the same time suspension equity became a focus of the Obama DOE, and the racial gap in suspensions closed statewide in Wisconsin. However, the study found that the suspension rate fell more for white students than it did for black or Hispanic students in Milwaukee, suggesting a widening of the racial gap.

Further, the study found that when other variables were properly controlled for, race did not explain suspension rates across a number of Wisconsin’s major school districts. Instead, the study’s authors argued, socioeconomic status and disability diagnosis—which tend to correlate with race—have more predictive power. …

… Declining suspensions may also have reduced teachers’ job satisfaction and performance, the study notes. A 2015 poll found that approximately 51 percent of the general public, and 59 percent of teachers, opposed policies requiring equal rates of suspension across racial groups. Anecdotal evidence cited by the WILL study points to teachers frustrated by the limits the “dear colleague” letter placed on their ability to enforce discipline.

Mitch Kokai / Senior Political Analyst

Mitch Kokai is senior political analyst for the John Locke Foundation. He joined JLF in December 2005 as director of communications. That followed more than four years as chie...

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