Betsy DeVos and Racial Bias in School Discipline | Last Week’s Best Articles


Our team is always seeking the latest news in the field of education. As advocates for a quality education for ALL students, we know we have to stay up-to-date on everything that’s going on in the education spheres of our nation…from the White House to the local public school district, from new legislation to the small acts of bravery and kindness made by a single teacher, from the milestones and celebrations to the hazardous injustices affecting many of our nations students.

Here are the best stories we came across last week…because we believe you should stay up-to-date, too!

DeVos school safety listening sessions give opposition chance to voice discipline concerns via Education Dive

Opponents and supporters of Obama-era guidance aimed at reducing disparities in how schools discipline students gathered with U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos Wednesday to voice their positions in separate “listening sessions” that were closed to the press.

In the morning session, educators argued that the guidance related to Title VI of the Civil Rights Act — which states that the U.S. Department of Education (ED) and the Department of Justice (DOJ) will investigate complaints of discipline policies and practices that discriminate based on students’ “personal characteristics” — should be maintained and that it improves school safety.


Government Watchdog Finds Racial Bias in School Discipline via The New York Times

Black students continue to be disciplined at school more often and more harshly than their white peers, often for similar infractions, according to a new report by Congress’s nonpartisan watchdog agency, which counters claims fueling the Trump administration’s efforts to re-examine discipline policies of the Obama administration.

The report, issued by the Government Accountability Office on Wednesday, is the first national governmental analysis of discipline policies since the Obama administration issued guidance in 2014 that urged schools to examine the disproportionate rates at which black students were being punished.

Citing Betsy DeVos’s Faith, Christian Group Challenges Her Comments on Race, School Discipline via Education Week

An open letter from a faith-based education advocacy group challenges U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, a devout Christian, to rethink her response to a question about race and school discipline.

The letter, written by Nicole Baker Fulgham, the founder and president of The Expectations Project, comes as DeVos considers rescinding Obama-era civil rights guidance meant to address disproportionately high rates of discipline for students of color. DeVos met this week with supporters and critics of that guidance as she considers her next steps.

“Our scripture says we’re all created in the image of God and are, therefore, of equal and immeasurable worth in the eyes of our Creator,” says the letter. “So when African-American kids in our schools are treated differently than white kids we should all be able to agree this is wrong.”

One thing to read this week…

The Push for Harsher School Discipline After Parkland via The Atlantic

Some policymakers and pundits have started to scapegoat discipline reform as a key factor behind campus massacres. School-based shootings rightly lead to policy discussions, “but to say that we should therefore be on the lookout for more dangerous kids to the point that it feels like fear-mongering—that could exacerbate the problem instead of actually solving it,” said Cami Anderson, the former superintendent of Newark Public Schools and founder of The Discipline Revolution Project.

Did any of these articles particularly speak to you? We would love to know your thoughts! Let us know in the comments below:

April 13, 2018
The Expectations Project

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  1. Just as the disproportionate discipline of students extends into the criminal justice system, I believe it also extends into higher education. As a graduate student at Montclair State located in Montclair, New Jersey I sat for a comprehensive exam for a masters degree. There were eight students in this group, one man, seven women, three of the women including myself are African and Caribbean-American, the four other members of the group are Caucasian. We three women of color were failed on this exam. The two students that were failed with me were excellent students and were as shocked at the test results. The format of the test was four questions, two graders for each question, four points were awarded for each passing answer. I was failed on one question by a half point by one grader. The other two women retested and their degrees were conferred. I protested to anyone and everyone who would listen, and many turned a deaf ear to my accusation of racism. This happened in 2004. I am still a half point away from that masters degree because I refused to be treated as the lesser student. I was the older student then and am now 63 years old and retired. In this state their is no student advocate or ombudsman to intercede for students. Over the years I have heard similar stories and I fear that students of color are wasting unnecessary time and money trying to earn that much needed degree for reasons beyond their control and fueled by institutional racism.