As U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos was meeting behind closed doors with educators and parents to re-evaluate the Obama-era school leniency policy of reducing reports of violent behavior committed by minority students, left-wing media and politicians were touting a new report that noted black students, boys, and students identified as “disabled” are disciplined at higher rates.
According to the Government Accountability Office (GAO) report– requested by Democrats Rep. Bobby Scott (VA) and Rep. Jerrold Nadler (NY) – national civil rights data for academic year 2013-2014 show “black students, boys, and students with disabilities were disproportionately disciplined (e.g., suspensions and expulsions) in K-12 public schools.”
“These disparities were widespread and persisted regardless of the type of disciplinary action, level of school poverty, or type of public school attended,” the report stated, citing that “black students accounted for 15.5 percent of all public school students, but represented about 39 percent of students suspended from school – an overrepresentation of about 23 percentage points.”
Politico reports Scott said the GAO report “dispels claims that racially disproportionate rates of discipline are based solely on income.”
“This report underscores the need to combat these gross disparities by strengthening, not rescinding, the 2014 Discipline Guidance Package, which recommends specific strategies to reduce the disparities without jeopardizing school safety,” he added.
The report is not “news,” since no one has disputed that minority students are disciplined at higher rates than whites and Asians. At issue is that Obama supporters attribute those higher rates to racism by teachers and school administrators.
“There are no surprises in the GAO report,” University of San Diego law professor Gail Heriot, a member of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, confirms to Breitbart News. “From time immemorial, we’ve known boys get disciplined more often than girls. It’s just that in the past nobody was silly enough to argue that anti-male bias was the primary reason.”
“It has also been known for a long time that African American students are disciplined more often than white students, and that white students are disciplined more often than Asian students,” Heriot continued. “Again, however, that doesn’t mean that African American students are being discriminated against vis-a-vis white students or that white students are being discriminated against vis-a-vis Asian students.”
Heriot says the primary reason for the disparities is differences in the rates of misbehavior.
“Much of it is associated with disadvantaged backgrounds,” she observes. “African Americans are more likely to come from poor and fatherless households.”
The disparities in discipline rates is apparently acknowledged by black students themselves.
Another study recently released by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) reveals that black students report being in a fight at school at a rate that is more than twice that for white students.
According to the NCES study, in 2015, data from the Youth Risk Behavior Survey showed 13 percent of black students reported being in a physical fight on school property, while 6 percent of white and 6 percent of Asian students reported the same. The highest percentage of student reports of fights on school property was for Pacific Islanders at 21 percent.
“The percentage of students who reported being in a physical fight on school property was also higher for American Indian/Alaska Native students (13 percent), students of two or more races (9 percent), and Hispanic students (9 percent) than for White students,” the NCES study reports.
Additionally, 32 percent of black students reported having been in a physical fight anywhere during the previous year, while 23 percent of Hispanic students, 20 percent of white students, and 15 percent of Asian students reported the same.
In a law review article on school discipline, Heriot and her colleague Alison Somin assert the Obama directive is “wrongheaded” and has introduced a higher level of “danger” to schools.
The authors write:
What if an important reason more African-American students were being disciplined than white or Asian students is that more African-American students were misbehaving? And what if the cost of failing to discipline those students primarily falls on their fellow African-American students who are trying to learn amid classroom disorder? Would unleashing OCR [Office for Civil Rights] and its army of lawyers cause those schools to act carefully and precisely to eliminate only that portion of the discipline gap that was the result of race discrimination? Or—more likely—would schools react heavy-handedly by tolerating more classroom disorder, thus making it more difficult for students who share the classroom with unruly students to learn?
Attorney Peter Kirsanow, also a member of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights and chairman of the board of directors of the Center for New Black Leadership, also observes to Breitbart News the literature on racial disparities in disciplinary rates often omits key data.
“Much of the literature that focuses on racial disparities in disciplinary rates recites statistics showing that black and Hispanic students are 3—4 times more likely to be suspended than white and Asian students,” he explains. “But the same literature often leaves out data showing that black and Hispanic students are far more likely than white and Asian students to commit the types of offenses resulting in suspension.”
“There is some evidence that black students are more likely to be suspended than white students for some of the same infractions,” he adds. “But a closer look at the data shows that’s not necessarily due to discrimination, but rather, the disciplinary policies of specific schools or school administrators. Some black school administrators at majority-black schools punish black students more harshly than white school administrators punish white (or black) students at majority white schools.”
Kirsanow also observes that, by most accounts, “students with disabilities are ‘overrepresented’ among the ranks of disciplined students.”
“That isn’t necessarily unexpected,” he states. “’Disabilities’ include behavioral disabilities. But the pro-Obama disciplinary guidance crowd doesn’t disaggregate students with behavioral disabilities from those with, for example, physical impairments. Consequently, the impression often left in the minds of the public is that rampaging teachers and administrators are unfairly suspending or expelling students with visual, auditory, or ambulatory disabilities.”
Nevertheless, Democrats and left-leaning media support the Obama directive – still in use during the Trump administration – that coerces schools to supposedly end the “school-to-prison pipeline” for minority students by not reporting their assaultive and threatening behavior to law enforcement. Schools that do not comply with the leniency policy have been threatened with federal investigations and a loss of federal funding.
The failure by a school to report a violent or threatening student to law enforcement means that such a student could purchase a firearm, a situation that is being reviewed in Parkland, Florida, where accused shooter Nikolas Cruz, with multiple incidents of past violent and assaultive behavior – but no arrests, killed 17 people and injured others at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School with a firearm.
Results of the GAO study were released as DeVos and the Federal Commission on School Safety, met to consider the repeal of the Obama school discipline policy.
School personnel who met with DeVos and her commission Wednesday included Annette Albright, a former Charlotte-Mecklenburg, North Carolina, black administrator who reported she was violently assaulted by black students and then terminated by her school district because she supposedly provoked the attack, and Nicole Stewart, a former San Diego vice principal who told Breitbart News she immediately observed a lack of discipline at Lincoln High School when she arrived.
“There were hesitations in suspending and you had to commit a really heinous crime to be expelled,” Stewart said. “They had adopted this ‘blue-slipping’ procedure for students they didn’t want to suspend on the record, but they also wanted to send that student home because they were a danger to themselves and the campus.”
“There is a culture of violence as a result of people not wanting to expel or suspend students,” she added.
Kirsanow and Heriot agree the Obama policy should be rescinded.
“The goal should be issue nondiscriminatory discipline appropriate to the offense, not to lower disciplinary standards so racial disparities aren’t as great,” Kirsanow asserts. “We’re sacrificing good students (and teachers) on the altars of political correctness, racial bean counting, and misguided theories of social justice. This is both boneheaded and tragic.”