Disparity Reflects a Sad Reality

Walter Williams was right to criticize a recent "guidance" letter from the Obama administration that pressures schools to have the same school discipline rates for blacks as for whites, even if their misbehavior rates are different.

The sad truth is that rates of misbehavior are generally higher among black students, who are often from broken homes. That's the conclusion of a 2014 study in the Journal of Criminal Justice by criminologists and academics like John Paul Wright. The study concluded that "the racial gap in suspensions was completely accounted for by a measure of the prior problem behavior of the student." Yet the Department of Education is threatening to investigate schools merely because they refer more black students for discipline, even if that's not the result of racism, but just reflects who is violating school rules. Williams points out that such pressure encourages a "racial quota system for school discipline."

Judges have struck down such quotas. In People Who Care v. Rockford Board of Education (1997), a federal appeals court declared unconstitutional a rule forbidding a school "to refer a higher percentage of minority students than of white students for discipline."

Hans Bader,

Senior Attorney, Competitive Enterprise Institute. Washington, D.C.