Obama’s lingering negative impact on school discipline, safety

Roger Clegg and Hans von Spakovsky explain at National Review Online why the Trump administration should reverse another negative policy enacted by Trump’s predecessor.

The Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty (WILL), which does great work, has written U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, urging her to withdraw an Obama-era “Dear Colleague” letter giving school administrators “guidance” on how to comply with federal law when it comes to school discipline.

Threatening lawsuits if the administrators didn’t comply with the “guidance,” the 2014 letter coerced many school systems into adopting illegal racial quotas in their disciplinary decision-making.

The Obama letter utilized the “disparate impact” approach to civil-rights enforcement, whereby a policy that does not discriminate on its face, in its intent, or in its application is nonetheless deemed illegal if it has “disproportionate” statistical effects among different racial and ethnic groups. …

… As a policy matter, there is overwhelming evidence that Obama-era policies culminating in this “Dear Colleague” letter pushed schools to avoid disciplining students who needed to be disciplined. It made avoiding politically incorrect numbers more important than maintaining school safety.
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The victims of this unfair and unlawful policy are most likely to be well-behaving, minority students — and their teachers — whose classrooms become disrupted and dangerous. And it doesn’t do misbehaving students any favors either, since a lack of early corrective action may only encourage even more disruptive and potentially dangerous behavior. This is what some refer to as the school-to-prison pipeline.

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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