The Trump Administration Is Using the Parkland Massacre as an Excuse to Roll Back Civil Rights

On Monday, the White House announced the creation of a Federal Commission on School Safety, chaired by Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, to recommend proposals for school violence prevention. Included in the mandate of DeVos’ commission is a starkly worded objective: “Repeal of the Obama Administration’s ‘Rethink School Discipline’ policies.”

It’s fair to wonder what this plan is doing on a list of items supposedly responding to school shootings. Prior school discipline history does not indicate that a youth will commit a school shooting. In Parkland, discipline policies did not thwart the district from taking action, and the attacker had been expelled from school. In fact, while most perpetrators of school shootings are white, children of color and students with disabilities are the ones disproportionately subject to school discipline.

These race and disability-based disparities prompted the Obama-era Department of Education to issue school discipline guidance to combat this bias in the nation’s public schools. The guidance is based on a substantial body of research as well as the department’s own investigations, which included findings of “cases where African-American students were disciplined more harshly and more frequently because of their race than similarly situated white students.” The department’s final analysis: “Racial discrimination in school discipline is a real problem.”

This realization isn’t confined to the Department of Education. Educators across the country, including the Florida Department of Education, have recognized the benefits of reforming overly punitive and discriminatory school discipline practices. There is no reason to think that these policies conflict with the ability to respond to school shootings. The Department of Education itself concluded that: “The goals of equity and school safety are thus complementary, and together help ensure a safe school free of discrimination.”

The plain truth is that this has nothing to do with preventing school shootings — the administration has had its eye on repealing the Obama-era discipline guidance for some time already as part of its deregulation agenda. And while the guidance is still characterized as under review by the administration, Secretary DeVos tipped her hand on Sunday.

In an appearance on 60 Minutes, she stated that racial disparities in school discipline come “down to individual kids.” To be clear about the implications of this statement, Ms. DeVos is saying that when Black students are disciplined more harshly than their white peers, the fault lies with Black youth. Secretary DeVos isn’t grappling with the right approach to disparate school discipline; she’s denying the problem exists.

The call to repeal the guidance on disparate school discipline has nothing to do with addressing gun violence in schools. While the administration has backed away from efforts to examine real solutions, like sensible gun regulations, it is boldly and shamefully exploiting this tragedy to advance its efforts to roll back civil rights.

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Liberals are insane

it's sad but true. We who have common sense know that Minority kids, especially black kids, cause most of the disruptions and trouble in school. Most of the racism is black and white but radical liberals like the ACLU will never admit this.

Anonymous

You meant to say that "... Most of the racism is black on white ..." didn't you? Which of course it is.

Anonymous

A 2014 study in the Journal of Criminal Justice concluded that black students do, in fact, misbehave at a higher rate than white students, and that black students' "prior problem behavior" -- not racism -- was the reason that black students are disciplined at a higher rate. The ACLU has never acknowledged the existence of such research. A 1997 federal appeals court ruling rejected the assumption that misbehavior rates are the same for blacks and whites, in striking down a requirement that a school system not "refer" minority students "for discipline" at a higher rate than it referred white students. See People Who Care v. Rockford Board of Education, 111 F.3d 528, 538 (7th Cir. 1997). The court ruled that such a requirement was an illegal racial quota. When experienced lawyers such as Roger Clegg pointed out such court rulings to the Obama-era Education Department, and argued that the Obama administration's school-discipline guidance on racial disparities was legally and factually flawed, the Obama administration ignored what they had to say. It should have at least responded to their criticisms, rather than ignoring relevant court rulings.

Anonymous

You know, those who constantly accuse others of being insane, or stupid, usually are the stupid and/or insane ones. I can't believe I'm saying this, but I'm beginning to think this country needs cleansed of the virus that parades as conservatism these days.

Dr. Timothy Leary

"Not everything is about race, nigger": George Wallace to Malcom X circa 1963.

Jodie

What utter biased bullshit. You people are sick.

The Radically I...

People with common sense know very well that institutional racism and white privilege are key reasons why students of color are underserved in the U.S. educational system. The ACLU will continue to exist as long as radical ignorance does.

Dr. Timothy Leary

Maybe civil rights need to be rolled back. Did you ever think of that?

Anonymous

Maybe you're out of your mind, and let's roll back freedom of speech, religion and free press while we're at it, too?

Lorrie Smith

Why is Facebook blocking all my posts against Trump and his cabinet for being " too fast".
Stepping all over my fredom of speech.
Happened 6 times today. My posts were not obscene, dangerous
Just comments on various posted reports from reputable news sources.

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