Federal Race-based Disciplinary Quotas

Back to March 2014 Ed Reporter

Federal Race-based Disciplinary Quotas

scalesThe Departments of Justice and Education issued a 23-page joint memorandum to states, districts, and schools warning them that they must “meet their obligations under Federal law to administer student discipline without discriminating on the basis of race, color, or national origin.” The memorandum was released by the Civil Rights division of each department on January 8, 2014, and signed by Eric Holder and Arne Duncan. The memorandum explains the nondiscrimination requirements of Titles IV and VI and “provides a set of recommendations to assist schools in developing and implementing policies and practices in a manner consistent with their legal obligations.” (www.ED.gov)

Members of the U.S. House Committee on Education and the Workforce are concerned that the federal government is attempting to interfere in local and state K-12 school discipline in a manner that could make schools unsafe for students. Legislators fear that the Departments of Justice and Education are imposing racial quotas on the number of students of certain races that schools can suspend or expel. The editors of the National Review suggest that the Obama administration’s use of “the Civil Rights Act to direct schools’ disciplinary practices might be its most foolhardy idea yet.” (1-16-14)

Legislators on the House Committee on Education and the Workforce sent a letter to Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and Attorney General Eric Holder requesting a prompt meeting to discuss their fears that policies advocated by the administration “could limit educators’ ability to enforce appropriate discipline policies needed to promote a safe learning environment for students.” The Congressmen state that the federal guidelines give:

“… examples of what each [federal] department might find discriminatory, even when policies have been applied fairly and equally to all students. We are concerned that this may have a chilling effect on teachers and school leaders working to address discipline issues with students, potentially leading to unruly and unsafe classrooms that could adversely affect student learning.” (EdWorkforce.House.gov)

The Congressmen also suggest that “such policies are better handled by the teachers, state officials, and local school leaders who are best equipped to assess the needs of individual students and the school community as a whole.”

Editors of the National Review predict that “schools will feel even more pressure than they already do to adopt a simple solution: try to discipline all races, regardless of behavior, at the same rate. This might mean arbitrarily increasing rates of punishment for whites or, much more likely, reducing them for blacks and Hispanics, disadvantaging their classmates of all races who’d like peaceful classrooms.”

The National Review editors conclude:

“No one should be surprised by the Obama administration’s zeal for alleging racial discrimination when it isn’t there and asserting central control where it is known to fail. But it is still shocking that the federal government is effectively encouraging schools to judge students on the color of their skin rather than the content of their character.” (National Review, 1-16-14)