Robert Hampton, American Renaissance, September 24, 2019
California governor Gavin Newsom recently signed a law to ban elementary and middle school suspensions for “willful defiance.” School officials are limited to in-school detention and warnings.
The prohibition extends an earlier ban on out-of-school suspension for disruptive K-3 students. The original draft banned suspensions in high schools, but that was too much even for the overwhelmingly Democratic California State Assembly. Any student can still be suspended for violence, theft, or drug use.
The policy’s supporters want to reduce “racial discrimination.” Blacks are only 6 percent of California’s student population but were 17 percent of those suspended over the past two years. Officials believe this is due to racism.
“When you look at the data on who is suspended, you can’t help but see the stark reality,” said state Sen. Nancy Skinner. “Boys of color, kids in special education, LGBTQ kids — kids who don’t fit all of our cultural norms — are targeted due to the implicit bias that we know is present in every institution we have.”
Sen. Skinner said the new school policy “may be one of the best ways to disrupt the school-to-prison pipeline.” This is a common argument. Lefties claim suspensions and expulsions push young blacks into crime, and that disruptive students should get counselling and in-school detention.
California’s new law is the latest assault on discipline policies that have a “disparate impact.” In 2012, President Obama’s Department of Education reported blacks were suspended 3-1/2 times more often than whites. The same report showed whites were suspended more than twice as often as Asians and Pacific Islanders, but liberals don’t care about that.
In 2014, the Obama Administration wrote to every school district in the country to tell them they could be violating federal anti-discrimination laws if there were racial disparities in suspensions. Even if schools treated students equally, “disparate impact” was enough to justify an investigation.
“That huge disparity is not caused by differences in children,” insisted then-Education Secretary Arne Duncan. “It is caused by differences in training, professional development and discipline policies.”
“We can no longer have this conversation, let alone fix the problem, if we’re unwilling to talk about race,” Mr. Duncan said in 2015. “To do better, we also have to take a hard look at ourselves, and our history, and the implicit biases that we all carry. The ugly truth — the harsh reality — is that still today in 2015, some children are far more likely to face harsh discipline than others, simply because of their zip code or the color of their skin.”
Suspensions plummeted nationwide under the threat, but the administration still investigated at least 350 school districts.
Florida’s Broward County followed the letter’s guidelines. Its schools counsel disruptive students instead of expelling or arresting them. Teachers and administrators take extensive “anti-bias” training.
Nicholas Cruz, the Hispanic who killed 17 people at Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School in February 2018, benefited from this approach. He participated in several fights and threatened violence, but all he got was counseling — a lot of it. It didn’t prevent his attack. In fact, if he had been arrested for his behavior and had a record, he would have failed the background check when he bought the rifle he used in the massacre.
His case isn’t unique. Violence rose in Broward County schools after the new guidelines. The chief juvenile probation officer reports that the county has the highest percentage of the “most serious, violent, [and] chronic” juvenile offenders in Florida.
The new policies had similar effects throughout the country. Los Angeles County schools banned suspensions for “willful defiance” in 2013. Academic performance dropped and violence rose in schools that cut suspensions.
The Trump Administration rescinded these guidelines, but some school districts still follow them. The Miami-Dade County school board wants to reduce school arrests because blacks — 20 percent of the student population — account for 60 percent of arrests.
Most Democratic presidential candidates want to restore these discipline policies. “Our kids deserve accommodation, not incarceration,” Pete Buttigieg says.
Sen. Elizabeth Warren vows to “break the school-to-prison pipeline” with her criminal justice plan. It requires “implicit bias” training for teachers and “require[s] that any police department receiving federal funds provide mandatory training in the scientific and psychological roots of discrimination, youth development, and de-escalation tactics to officers assigned to school campuses.” It also calls for more investigations of race differences in suspension rates.
Sen. Bernie Sanders also wants to “end the school-to-prison pipeline” and “treat children like children.” He would force schools to end “zero tolerance” policies and “[e]liminate criminal charges for school-based disciplinary behavior that would not otherwise be criminal.” He wants more money for counselling and therapy.
Meanwhile, Sen. Cory Booker wants yoga for disruptive students.
All this would make schools more dangerous. Liberals refuse to understand that black students are more disruptive and violent than other students. The “school-to-prison pipeline” is not the problem. Bad students are. Suspensions and arrests keep schools safe.
Children shouldn’t suffer in the name of illusions about race.