The Trump administration can bring discipline back to schools and help students of color.
There’s been a sea of change in school discipline over the past five years. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan was convinced that the striking racial disparity in school suspensions was “not caused by differences in children.” According to Duncan and others, students of color were being discriminated against by their teachers, fostering a “school-to-prison pipeline [that] must be challenged every day.”
So, the Obama administration issued federal guidance putting school districts on notice that even if their discipline policy was “neutral on its face” and “administered in an evenhanded manner,” they could be subject to a federal civil rights investigation if minorities were suspended at a higher rate. Partly in response to federal pressure, over 50 school districts, serving 6.35 million students, implemented reforms and 27 states revised their laws regarding school discipline.
No one bothered to ask students or teachers whether this was a good idea. If new evidence from New York City is any indication, discipline reform is hurting the people it’s trying to help and hitting students of color the hardest.
An examination of the NYC School Survey shows that, in the eyes of students, school climate has deteriorated significantly from the 2013-14 to the 2015-16 school years. The deterioration was most dramatic in....
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