School Discipline

Every child is entitled to a safe and disruption-free learning environment. So, it is alarming that for several years activists have advocated for “school discipline reform.” School discipline reform is a euphemism that means schools ought to use racial data to inform how they discipline children.  

One of President Barack Obama’s infamous 2014 “Dear Colleague” letters, which was later rescinded in 2018, said,

The administration of student discipline can result in unlawful discrimination based on race in two ways: first, if a student is subjected to different treatment based on the student’s race, and second, if a policy is neutral on its facemeaning that the policy itself does not mention raceand is administered in an evenhanded manner but has a disparate impact, i.e., a disproportionate and unjustified effect on students of a particular race.

In other words, if a disciplinary policy disproportionately impacts a particular race, then it may be considered discrimination. Although the letter was rescinded, over the past several years, school districts in many of America’s largest cities have reduced the use of suspensions in school discipline. 

This has resulted in disruptive students having a negative effects on their peers and the school climates.

PDE Action believes that school discipline is best addressed at the local level and each student ought to be treated as an individual irrespective of their sex, race, or background.

Further reading:

Parents Defending Education’s Comments on the Department of Education’s Request for Information Regarding the Nondiscriminatory Administration of School Discipline

Tell the US Department of Education that Racial Preferences Don’t Belong in School Discipline

The Bitter Debate Over School Discipline by Max Eden

School Discipline Reform and Disorder: Evidence from New York City Public Schools, 2012-16 by Max Eden

Less Discipline, More Disorder: The Unintended Consequences of Federal School Discipline Directives from the Heritage Foundation