While people were setting themselves on fire over the directed withdrawal of US forces from Syria, the resignation of Secretary of Defense James Mattis, and the impending government shutdown, some real news was taking place in Department of Education. It wasn’t covered all that much and for that Betsy DeVos is probably grateful.
Unlike many conservatives, the Obama administration recognized the value of the Department of Education, not as a means to improve education but as a means to indoctrinate children into unquestioning compliance with whatever progressive fantasy they were pushing at the moment. They did this with what were known as “Dear Colleague” letters. By way of this means of communication, they effectively condemned young men who were accused of sexual misconduct in colleges and universities to conviction. They were not allowed to question the accuser or to have an advocate or witnesses and, in many cases they weren’t even told what the allegations were. The did this to mainstream transgenerism. And they did this to effectively shut down school discipline.
In January 2014, a “Dear Colleague” letter was sent out that essentially required that students be disciplined in accordance with their representation in the student body. The letter states that even a race-neutral policy that results in more minority students being disciplined will be termed discriminatory and Department of Education will intervene. In fact, arrests of students by law enforcement for school related reasons could trigger federal action against the school system:
Schools cannot divest themselves of responsibility for the nondiscriminatory administration of school safety measures and student discipline by relying on school resource officers, school district police officers, contract or private security companies, security guards or other contractors, or law enforcement personnel. To the contrary, the Departments may hold schools accountable for discriminatory actions taken by such parties
This guidance might as well tell schools that they should strive to prevent their students from being reported to law enforcement. If you want to understand why Broward County, FL, was so reluctant to really do something in regards to school discipline, you need look no further than this letter to understand why their administration tried avoid reporting Nikolas Cruz to the police. This, from Heather MacDonald writing in the New York Post, spells out the impact:
To understand how absurd that is, consider Duval County, Fla., which has the Sunshine State’s highest juvenile homicide rate. Seventy-three children, some as young as 11, have been arrested for murder and manslaughter over the last decade.
Black juveniles made up 87.6 percent of those arrests and whites 8 percent. The black population in Duval County was 28.9 percent in 2010 and the white population 56.6 percent, making black youngsters 21.6 times more likely to be arrested for homicide than white youngsters. Nationally, black males between the ages of 14 and 17 commit homicide at 10 times the rate of white and Hispanic male teens combined.
Beneath those homicide numbers is a larger juvenile crime wave, and the same family dysfunction and lack of socialization that create this wave inevitably affect classroom behavior. Duval County Public Schools also have the highest number of violent campus incidents of any Florida school district.
Given the arrest rate for murder, what would you expect the discipline rate to look like in school? My guess is that about 87% of suspensions/expulsions would be of black students as you’d expect the rates of murder to roughly parallel other antisocial acts. But under Obama’s Department of Education, if Duval County’s discipline rate of black students exceed 29%, the presumption is that the school district’s policies are either discriminatory or the staff administering the policies are acting in a discriminatory fashion.
In 2018, a cellphone video captured a classroom assault emblematic of the post-disciplinary era. A physics teacher in Texas had confiscated a student’s smartphone. “Give me my f - - king phone,” the teen yelled, towering over the teacher sitting frozen behind his desk, grinning nervously, the very image of submission.
Then the student violently shoved the teacher in the face. Still impassive, the teacher pushed the phone across the desk back to the student, who grabbed it with a self-righteous shrug and strode away. The school principal explained that it “was just a bad day the student was having,” and commended the teacher’s response.
Excusing insubordination and aggression in the name of racial equity isn’t a civil rights accomplishment. The third-party victims of such behavior are themselves disproportionately minority.
That latter point is key. Overwhelmingly, the victims of violence by minority students are other minority students.
In addition to being stupid, the letter appears to be illegal.
Certainly, there is no lack of reasons to withdraw the letter, which created both legal and policy problems. Procedurally, it violates both the Congressional Review Act and the Administrative Procedure Act. Substantively, as the [Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty (WILL)] letter explains, the Education Department lacks authority to use the “disparate impact” standard in enforcing Title VI of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, which prohibits discrimination in programs or activities that receive federal funds. In 2001, the Supreme Court ruled in Alexander v. Sandoval that Title VI bans only “disparate treatment.” In any event, the letter’s hyper-aggressive approach violates other Supreme Court and lower federal-court decisions, including a ban on racial quotas in school discipline.
If it is illegal, why no lawsuits? Can you imagine any educator in the nation suing the federal government so they can suspend/expel more minority students? No? Me neither.
All that ended Friday.
This action by Whitaker rescinds a Jan. 8, 2014 "Dear Colleague" joint letter between DOJ and the Dept. of Ed about nondiscrimination in school discipline (archived copy here: https://t.co/ax0miFE2va). There had been reports that this was in the works: https://t.co/k2QCF08jZ2
— Zoe Tillman (@ZoeTillman) December 21, 2018
I’m still waiting for the first lawsuit to make her restore this policy. After all, highly woke federal judges have declared that President Trump can’t rescind an internal memo written by Janet Napolitano creating an illegal immigration program.
Slowly but surely, Trump’s cabinet officials are unraveling the skein of extra-judicial governance woven by the Obama administration. Betsy DeVos has been in the forefront of that effort. This is what Trump was elected to do and his appointees are delivering.
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