The Department of Justice wants schools to directly consider race when disciplining students, taking care to ensure that some races are not punished more often than others, even if students of certain races misbehave more often.
Eric Holder’s DOJ co-wrote the letter with the Department of Education, and sent it to public schools across the country yesterday. First among its decrees: Schools should not strive to treat all races the same; rather, they should treat the races differently, levying weaker punishments when necessary, in order to effect equal outcomes among students of all races.
The problem? Not all races are equally likely to misbehave at school. Boys, for instance, get into trouble much more frequently than girls. And black, Hispanic and Native American children — who are far more likely to grow up in single-parent households — have higher misbehavior rates than white and Asian students, according to Roger Clegg of National Review.
But the DOJ’s recent guidelines instruct schools to discipline racial groups equally. In practice, this would mean either punishing certain kids more harshly because they fall into a better-behaved racial category, or opting not to punish students who happen to be black, Hispanic or Native American.
This philosophy, known as “disparate impact,” will harm well-behaved students, according to Clegg.
“If schools are pressured to ‘get their numbers’ right in this area, they will either start disciplining students who shouldn’t be or, more likely, will not discipline some students who ought to be,” he wrote. “If unruly students are not disciplined, the kids who will lose out the most will be well-behaved students in classes with undisciplined classmates, and those well-behaved students are themselves likely to be poor black or Latino kids. Somehow the Left always forgets about them in its eagerness to show compassion.”
The letter, however, makes crystal clear that this is exactly what the federal government expects from schools:
“Schools also violate Federal law when they evenhandedly implement facially neutral policies and practices that, although not adopted with the intent to discriminate, nonetheless have an unjustified effect of discriminating against students on the basis of race.”
It also lists disciplinary policies that it would consider racist:
“Examples of policies that can raise disparate impact concerns include policies that impose mandatory suspension, expulsion, or citation (e.g., ticketing or other fines or summonses) upon any student who commits a specified offense — such as being tardy to class, being in possession of a cellular phone, being found insubordinate, acting out, or not wearing the proper school uniform.”
One may wonder what schools should be policing, if they are not allowed to address tardiness, possession of prohibited devices, insubordination and school uniform violations — but the letter does not elaborate on disciplinary causes it finds acceptable.