Secretary of Education Betsy Devos is aiming to remove important Obama-era guidance policies that aimed to ensure that students are not unfairly disciplined in American schools. The Trump administration believes that removing these guidelines set by the Obama administration will decrease the amount of school-related violence.
This comes move comes from a policy recommendation from the Federal School Safety Commission’s report. In the wake of the Parkland shooting, it was expected that this report would have a focus on on guns and school safety. The report was aimed to provide recommendations and ensure school safety.
Obama’s policies are called the “Rethink Discipline” and explain why “zero-tolerance” policies in school do more harm for students than good in many cases. This is especially relevant with minority students having three times higher and a disproportionate rate of suspensions and expulsions than white students.
“Schools are places where there’s tremendous amounts of discretion with regard to when to call law enforcement,” said Phillip Goff, the president of the Center for Policing Equity at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York in a paper by edweek.org. “As a result, we end up with folks who fear black kids, fear for their physical safety, fear that they can’t control their class, or quite frankly, contempt [for black children]. Anytime you have high levels of fear and high levels of discretion, you’re going to end up with high levels of disparity.”
According to the Trump administration, rescinding these policies will help alleviate the amount of school-related violence. They have gone out to cite that teachers and students were scared of students that showed signs of antisocial or violent tendencies who would tend to go unpunished or even unchecked.
Acting Attorney General Matt Whitaker went to say that the report “provides a substantive blueprint for this Administration’s next steps to protect our young people. The Department of Justice will continue to support first responders and provide training for law enforcement officers and school personnel.”
As expected, this news from the Trump Administrations created an uproar of criticism by activists and parents alike.
“School shootings are a grave and preventable problem, but rescinding the school discipline guidance is not the answer,” said Sherrilyn Ifill, the President and Director-counsel of NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund on a paper by the New York Times, “Repealing the guidance will not stop the next school shooter, but it will ensure that thousands more students of color are unnecessarily ushered into the school-to-prison pipeline.”
Studies show that suspensions can lead students into a spiral of lifelong negative effects and show little effectiveness of having a positive impact for students. While the Trump Administration believes that rescinding these policies will help decrease school-related violence, it’s good to point out that statistically the majority of school shooters in the United States are not students of color. They would however be the most affected by the removal of these Obama policies. This issue will continue to develop in the coming of weeks and Accesslocal.tv will continue to focus on how this will be resolved.