The editors of National Review have written a new piece about the Obama administration’s use of the Civil Rights Act to direct school discipline.

School Discipline Racialized

The Obama administration is no stranger to trying to micromanage complex, intractable problems from Washington. But using the Civil Rights Act to direct schools’ disciplinary practices might be its most foolhardy idea yet. Beginning in 2010, the Department of Education, led by the occasionally sensible Arne Duncan, announced that it intended to pursue vigorously civil-rights violations in the American school system. That’s led to a number of DOE investigations of various school districts with racially disparate discipline rates.

This, of course, is not surprising: Black and Hispanic students are much more likely to be low achievers, coming from poor homes, often headed by a single parent. The discipline disparities produced by these tragic circumstances are so widespread that the Departments of Justice and Education have now issued a set of national guidelines for school discipline, summarizing “schools’ obligations to avoid and redress racial discrimination in the administration of school discipline” and explaining the departments’ ability to launch civil-rights investigations if they believe schools have failed in their duties.

The feds contend, as an aside, that discrimination in discipline shows up in studies when controlling for poverty and other factors, but the evidence for this contention is ludicrously weak. Federal civil-rights investigators don’t have to publicly disclose the grounds they’ve used to initiate investigations of racial discrimination, but their work so far leans as heavily as the new guidelines do on evidence of disparate statistical impact, rather than on indications of real bias and disparate treatment. They will not admit that they rely on such arbitrary evidence, since there is little statutory justification in the Civil Rights Act for such a disparate-impact case, but the objection is clear enough: Certain minorities are disciplined at higher rates than whites are, so racism must be at work.

Read the original article:
School Discipline Racialized (National Review)