Education Department Pushes Racial Quotas in School Discipline

At Point of Law, Ted Frank of the Manhattan Institute criticizes the Obama Administration’s demand for de facto racial quotas in school discipline:

Seventy percent of African-American children are born to single mothers. Moreover, children growing up in the African-American community face the peer pressure of gangsta culture: success in school results in ostracism for “acting white.”  With such dysfunction in the African-American community one would expect African-American children to have more disciplinary problems than average. And indeed they do: “black students were three and a half times as likely to be suspended or expelled than their white peers”. These problems are certainly difficult: how do you change the culture?

Unfortunately, the Obama administration is proposing counterproductive policies that would reduce personal responsibility.

According to the Obama administration, the disparity in discipline is a “civil rights” issue of “equity.” The Department of Education is threatening “disparate impact” inquiries on school districts that discipline blacks more than whites or Asians. School districts could only comply by failing to discipline poorly-behaving African-American students; disciplining well-behaving whites to get the numbers up will just result in lawsuits. The consequences would be disastrous. Poorly-behaving African-Americans are most likely to be attending majority-minority schools. The ultimate effect is a wealth transfer from well-behaved African-American students trying to learn to thugs interfering with that process, only adding to the dysfunction in public schools and the African-American community.

Racial quotas in school discipline will indeed “result in lawsuits,” as white and Asian students sue over being disciplined for conduct that triggered no discipline when committed by a black peer (unless the school manages to conceal from the public the fact that it is applying a de facto quota).  In People Who Care v. Rockford Board of Education, 111 F.3d 528, 534 (1997), the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit declared that racial quotas and racial-balance requirements in school discipline are unconstitutional, and also stated that it is unconstitutional to use racial preferences to offset “disparate impact” (that is, statistical disparities not caused by the school’s racism).  Moreover, the Supreme Court ruled that the federal statute banning racial discrimination in schools, Title VI, does not even prohibit unintentional “discrimination” such as “disparate impact,” in its Alexander v. Sandoval decision.

While seeking to hold innocent school officials liable for racial discrimination based on statistical disparities that result from socioeconomic factors like broken homes, rather than racism, the Education Department has embraced the racial demagogue Al Sharpton.  Education Secretary Arne Duncan recently called for  “a huge round of applause for our leader, Reverend Al Sharpton.”  (This was shortly after “Attorney General Eric Holder,” the head of the Justice Department, praised Sharpton, calling him a “tireless” champion of the “voiceless” and “powerless.”)  This is the same Al Sharpton who has a record of “inciting murderous riots; slandering Jews, Mormons, and homosexuals; libeling a state prosecutor in the course of championing Tawana Brawley’s fabrication of a racial ‘hate crime.’” Even the Washington Post‘s Dana Milbank, an apologist for Sharpton, admits that Sharpton “burst onto the national scene as the mouthpiece for Tawana Brawley,” “who falsely claimed that she had been raped by white men.”  Sharpton was found guilty of defamation for making false, racially inflammatory claims about the Tawana Brawley case that included sexually smearing an innocent prosecutor in ways that I cannot describe here due to its vileness.  “His image worsened a few years later when Jewish leaders in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, accused him of inflaming anti-Semitism. Then came the 1995 Harlem protest at which he called a Jewish landlord a ‘white interloper’ — followed by an attack on the landlord’s store that left eight people dead.

But the bigoted Sharpton gets applause from the Education Secretary, while school officials just trying to make school a safe place by disciplining violent or disruptive students get investigated for racial discrimination, or pressured to base discipline on a student’s race.  Former educator Edmund Janko explains here how he used to discipline white students more than black students in order to avoid a discrimination investigation by the Education Department’s Office for Civil Rights (where I used to work.) Janko would suspend whites for offenses that earned black students only a reprimand. That way, he could meet an informal racial quota in school suspensions.