An Obama Decree Continues to Make Public Schools Lawless To improve education, allow teachers to administer discipline regardless of race.
In 2012 the Education Department released a national study showing that black students are suspended from school at a higher rate than whites, and the findings fueled a predictable debate over whether school discipline policies are racist. Two years later, the department sent a letter to school districts warning them to do something about the disparity—in effect, to stop suspending so many disruptive black students or risk becoming the subject of a federal civil-rights investigation—and the results have been just as predictable.
The title alone of a new report on the fallout, “School Discipline Reform and Disorder,” might tell you all you need to know. The author, Max Eden of the Manhattan Institute, notes that 27 states and more than 50 of the country’s largest school districts have moved to reduce suspensions in recent years, often to the dismay of those on the front lines. A Chicago teacher said her school became “lawless” after the new discipline policy was implemented. A teacher in Oklahoma City said “we were told that referrals would not require suspension unless there was blood.” A Buffalo teacher who was kicked in the head by a student said his charges are well aware of the new policy. “The kids walk around and say ‘We can’t get suspended—we don’t care what you say.’ ”
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Mr. Eden’s report isn’t just a collection of anecdotes. It also includes plenty of empirical data that point to a change for the worse in school order. In New York City, home to the nation’s largest school system, suspensions rose steadily between 2002 and 2011 under former mayor Michael Bloomberg, whose policies targeted disruptive students in the most violent schools. But Mr. Bloomberg softened his position somewhat in 2012 for first-time offenders, and his successor, Bill de Blasio, who assumed office in 2014, has made it much more difficult to suspend even those students who’ve committed repeated infractions.
Following the implementation of these reforms, school suspensions in New York fell by nearly 50%, but survey data of students, teachers and parents show that the learning climate in many schools has suffered. Moreover, the effects of the new policies haven’t been evenly distributed, especially under the current mayor, writes Mr. Eden. “Under de Blasio’s discipline reform, of An Obama Decree Continues to Make Public Schools Lawless - WSJ: