The Trump administration is being accused of racism for targeting an Obama-era directive compelling schools to ease up on discipline for minority students — even though the policy has made life more difficult for kids, including minorities, stuck in increasingly unruly classrooms.
Ask Virginia Walden Ford, who runs a church-based after-school snack program in Little Rock. She was recently surprised when a young, fearful black girl turned up before the end of the school day and admitted she had skipped class.
Why? She had been involved in a fight the day before with another girl, but the school had refused to suspend her assailant, and she worried that the girl would try to pick a fight with her again.
“She had been continually bullied all year long,” recalled Ms. Ford, an EdChoice board member. “My advice was, ‘Talk to your counselor, teacher, parents,’ but she made it really, really clear to me that day that that’s not doing any good. Her school does not want to suspend students. They’re trying to keep the suspension rate down.”
The girl isn’t alone. Critics of the 2014 Dear Colleague — an advisory on non-discriminatory school discipline, issued by the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights — say the policy has been enormously successful in reducing suspensions and expulsions, but it’s also made schools more chaotic, even dangerous.
By replacing suspensions with counseling, the schools have in some cases kept rowdy students in class while pushing out well-behaved students who either fear being attacked or have given up on trying to learn in poorly disciplined classrooms.