President Barack Obama’s first education secretary, Arne Duncan, gave a speech on the 45th anniversary of “Bloody Sunday” at the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama, where, in 1965, state troopers beat and tear-gassed hundreds of peaceful civil rights marchers who were demanding voting rights.
Later that year, as a result of widespread support across the nation, Congress passed the Voting Rights Act. Duncan titled his speech “Crossing the Next Bridge.” Duncan told the crowd that black students “are more than three times as likely to be expelled as their white peers,” adding that Martin Luther King would be “dismayed.”
Gail Heriot, a law professor at the University of San Diego and a member of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, and her special assistant and counselor, Alison Somin, have written an important article in the Texas Review of Law and Politics, titled “The Department of Education’s Obama-Era Initiative on Racial Disparities in School Discipline” (Spring 2018).
The article is about the departments of Education and Justice’s “disparate impact” vision, wherein they see racial discrimination as the factor that explains why black male students face suspension and expulsion more often than other students.
Faced with threats from the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights, schools have instituted new disciplinary policies. For example, after the public school district in Oklahoma City was investigated by the office, there was a 42.5 percent decrease in the number of suspensions.
According to an article in The Oklahoman, one teacher said, “Students are yelling, cursing, hitting, and screaming at teachers and nothing is being done but teachers are being told to teach and ignore the behaviors.” According to Chalkbeat, new high school teachers left one school because they didn’t feel safe. There have been cases in which students have assaulted teachers and returned to school the next day.
Many of the complaints about black student behavior are coming from black teachers. I doubt whether they could be accused of racial discrimination against black students.
The first vice president of the St. Paul, Minnesota, chapter of the NAACP said it’s “very disturbing” that the school district would retaliate against a black teacher “for simply voicing the concern” that when black students are not held accountable for misbehaving, they are set up for failure in life.
Read the full story from The Daily Signal
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