Last Week’s Best Articles | School Discipline and the Repeal of Civil Rights Protections


Our team is always seeking the latest news in the field of education. As advocates for a high-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 nation’s students.

This week, we’re focused on the Betsy DeVos led School Safety Commission’s recent recommendation to repeal federal guidelines designed to protect students who are disproportionally affected by school discipline. We’re leading off with an article summarizing the decision, before featuring a round-up of reactions to the commission’s recommendation.

Here’s what happened…

Betsy DeVos panel rejects Obama-era effort to reduce discrimination in school discipline via The Washington Post

President Trump’s school safety commission will recommend canceling an Obama-era initiative meant to reduce racial disparities in school discipline and will not recommend new gun restrictions, people familiar with the matter said.

The 2014 Obama-era letter cited data showing African American students are more likely to be disciplined than their white peers and said the gap cannot be explained by more frequent or serious misbehavior. Relying on the concept of “disparate impact,” it said a school may be discriminating if its policies have a discriminatory effect, even if they are not explicitly biased.

A report this year from the Government Accountability Office documented the gaps and suggested racial bias may be to blame: “Implicit bias — stereotypes or unconscious association about people — on the part of teachers and staff may cause them to judge students’ behavior differently based on the students’ race and sex.”

And this is what people are saying about it…

Trump’s school-discipline rollback will hurt black and brown kids via NY Daily News

For the last three years, I have been organizing with a youth-led coalition, the Urban Youth Collaborative, to transform approaches to school discipline because racial biases, implicit and explicit, lead to black and Latino students receiving harsher punishments for similar behavior. For some discipline code violations in New York City, black students are suspended for twice as many days, for the same infraction, as students of other ethnicities. And in New York City, black and brown students are 92% of students who receive summons for violations.

Suspensions push students out of school without addressing their social and emotional needs and push them further away from support.

Betsy DeVos’ education commission is making a terrible mistake via CNN

No one disputes that schools should have the authority and ability to swiftly address behavior that is violent or unsafe for children. Yet the use of draconian school discipline measures that, according to the US Department of Education, largely impact students of color and students with disabilities for minor infractions are unnecessary, dangerous and educationally unsound. As the commission itself acknowledges, such measures can derail children’s education and make it more difficult for them to engage successfully and safely in school.

Trump and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, who chairs the federal commission, continue to play politics with our children’s lives. The critical and much-needed effort to address school shootings cannot be an excuse to allow thousands of students to be harshly punished for minor misbehavior, which could destroy their educational futures. Throwing out the 2014 guidance — which provides exactly what Trump and DeVos say that they are looking for — eliminates the chance for children to get the support and education they need while perpetuating the heinous cycle of violence. It will make our schools less safe. Now has long been the time to do better.

Trump’s School-Safety Commission’s Strange Focus on Discipline via The Atlantic

While advocates and experts of all political stripes are likely to agree with several of the recommendations of the report, the recommendation on school discipline delves, perhaps unnecessarily, into one of the most politically contentious issues in education. As my colleague, Alia Wong wrote in March, “For Washington policymakers to give outsized attention to student-discipline reform is to succumb to ideological precepts that lack empirical support. It is to waste the lessons gleaned from the growing tally of school shootings while reinforcing racial disparities.”

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

January 11, 2019
The Expectations Project

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