Public Schools Urged To Weed Out Discriminatory Disciplinary Policies

Federal government's new guidelines issue advice to teachers and administrators

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The Departments of Justice and Education issued new guidance to public schools on Wednesday, aimed at helping teachers and administrators weed out disciplinary practices that discriminate based on race and ethnicity.

The federal guidelines are the first to address the issue of racially discriminatory sanctions within schools, often seen as perpetuating a “school-to-prison” pipeline where disorderly pupils are expelled, only to end up turning to crime. “A routine school discipline infraction should land a student in a principal’s office,” said Attorney General Eric Holder, “not in a police precinct.”

The new guidelines offer alternatives to existing school discipline policies, with focus on teacher training, support services, and outreach to the local community.

Though the Civil Rights Act protects students from racial discrimination, zero tolerance policies and other punitive measures within public schools have been criticized for targeting minorities. The Department of Education said three million public school students received out-of school suspensions in 2011 and over 100,000 were expelled. African-American students were three times more likely than their white peers to be suspended, often for similar actions. 

“The impacts of exclusionary policies are not felt equally in every segment of the population – with students of color and those with disabilities often receiving different and more severe punishments than their peers,” said Holder.

The American Civil Liberties Union, which advocates for the reduction of punitive practices within schools, released a statement praising the federal government’s new guidelines. “This is a victory for all who care about creating environments where students can thrive,” said Deborah Vagins, a senior legislative counsel at the ACLU.

6 comments
JulieAnnWorley
JulieAnnWorley

Federal Lawmaker Rep. Carolyn McCarthy D-NY has been unable to garner support for a federal bill to Abolish Sexually Violent School Discipline of Children K-12 in U.S. Public Schools known as "Corporal Punishment" the deliberate infliction of physical pain to punish students for minor infractions, Cost $0.  See the brutally violent truth about corporal punishment of students in America's public schools at YouTube video trailer for Documentary Movie "The Board of Education" by Jared Abrams.  See disturbing facts in 2008 Report "A Violent Education" by Human Rights Watch and ACLU including photos of actual shaved baseball bats used to hit children in America's public schools, legal in 19 states in 2014!  Injuries and trauma to children from educators, mandatory child abuse reporters by law, hitting them with wooden boards are NOT COVERED by school district liability insurance because the act is deliberate to inflict pain punishment, leaving taxpayers to foot the bill for local school districts to defend the sexually violent practice and to pay any damages.  Educators are being arrested and convicted of child abuse for administering corporal punishment on students.  Federal and state lawmakers are indifferent and allowing the continued violation of children's constitutional/civil/human rights to perpetuate decade after decade, yet Federal law prohibits the use of corporal punishment against convicted Felons in ALL U.S. Prisons!

LouisPFreely
LouisPFreely

"African-American students were three times more likely than their white peers to be suspended...."


Here's another interesting statistic: white students were three times more likely than their Asian-American peers to suspended.  Using the logic of "disparate impact", this must mean teachers are racist against whites.



mrbomb13
mrbomb13

What is sorely needed is a return to corporal punishment in schools, and strong parenting/corporal punishment at home. 

For those of you too young to remember, all it took was 'one good hit' from a teacher/parent, and you would not dare to committ the same infraction again.

mrbomb13
mrbomb13

As a teacher who has taught in a diversity of public schools for a number of years, the Department of Justice's "guidelines" are totally disconnected from the realities on the ground.

To concede, yes, minorities are far, far more likely to be reported by teachers (myself included) - and are far more likely to be recommended for suspension, expulsion, etc.  Additionally, they are more likely to be arrested, and assigned to a probation officer; I have only had 3 former students go to jail.

However, what TIME Magazine does not disclose to readers is that minorities - unlike Whites - are far more likely to scream obscenities/vulgarities at teachers/students, assault teachers/students (I've had to subdue more than one in my career), destroy school property, leaveshout threatening messages to teachers/students, etc..  That does not get reported by the media, and that is shameful!! 

mrbomb13
mrbomb13

I'm sorry, but you will have to clarify your comment, especially in light of the fact that minority students have unleashed the same abuse on teachers of color as well.