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Manhattan Institute

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On School Discipline, Fix the Problem, Not the Statistics

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On School Discipline, Fix the Problem, Not the Statistics

National Review Online November 13, 2017
Urban PolicyEducation
EducationPre K-12

Are America’s teachers a bunch of racists? Democrats seem to think so.

After a rocky start, Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos has done an admirable job of reining in Barack Obama’s executive overreach. From giving states more freedom on K–12 schooling to paring back heavy-handed higher-education regulations, she’s taken step after step toward restoring a limited and principled federal role. But there is, unfortunately, one glaring exception: The Obama administration’s guidance on school discipline remains in full force.

That guidance extended Black Lives Matter’s ideology down into America’s classrooms. Social-justice activists assumed that just as racial disparities in the criminal-justice system must be evidence that cops are (at least implicitly) racist, so too racial disparities in school suspensions must be evidence that teachers are (at least implicitly) racist. Therefore, teachers — like cops — have to be restrained.

Former secretary of education Arne Duncan declared that the discipline disparity “is not caused by difference in children,” but rather by teachers. And because suspensions are correlated with dropping out, which is correlated with other bad outcomes, teachers are complicit in creating a “school-to-prison pipeline.” Never mind that correlation is not causation, or the notion that poverty and family structure might affect behavior. Teachers are the problem, and according to Duncan, “It is adult behavior that needs to change.”

Read the entire piece at National Review Online

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Max Eden is a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute. Follow him on Twitter here.

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