Obama Wants Schools to Base Disciplinary Actions on Race

The other day we learned that President Obama is forming a new African American education office. It appears that part of the mission will be to impose race-based disciplinary policies on schools.

President Barack Obama is backing a controversial campaign by progressives to regulate schools’ disciplinary actions so that members of major racial and ethnic groups are penalized at equal rates, regardless of individuals’ behavior.

His July 26 executive order established a government panel to promote “a positive school climate that does not rely on methods that result in disparate use of disciplinary tools.”

“African Americans lack equal access to highly effective teachers and principals, safe schools, and challenging college-preparatory classes, and they disproportionately experience school discipline,” said the order, titled “White House Initiative On Educational Excellence.”

Because of those causes, the report suggests, “over a third of African American students do not graduate from high school on time with a regular high school diploma, and only four percent of African American high school graduates interested in college are college-ready across a range of subjects.”

What could possibly go wrong?

“What this means is that whites and Asians will get suspended for things that blacks don’t get suspended for,” because school officials will try to level punishments despite groups’ different infraction rates, predicted Hans Bader, a counsel at the Competitive Enterprise Institute. Bader is a former official in the Education Department’s Office for Civil Rights, and has sued and represented school districts and colleges in civil-rights cases.

“It is too bad that the president has chosen to set up a new bureaucracy with a focus on one particular racial group, to the exclusion of all others,” said Roger Clegg, the president of the Center for Equal Opportunity.

“A disproportionate share of crimes are committed by African Americans, and they are disproportionately likely to misbehave in school… [because] more than 7 out of 10 African Americans (72.5 percent) are born out of wedlock… versus fewer than 3 out of 10 whites,” he said in a statement to The Daily Caller. Although ” you won’t see it mentioned in the Executive Order… there is an obvious connection between these [marriage] numbers and how each group is doing educationally, economically, criminally,” he said. (Read More)

As usual, progressives spot a problem – in this case disciplinary problems among a group of children – and come up with solutions that will only make everything worse for everybody. Even worse is that nine times out of ten it’s their own policies that created the problems in the first place.

Update: Hans Bader emailed a link to his article on Maryland’s unconstitutional school discipline quotas. It sounds to me like President Obama wants to use Maryland as a role model for all 50 (or 57, depending on who is counting) states.

Crimes and infractions are not evenly distributed across racial groups, as the Supreme Court noted in United States v. Armstrong, 517 U.S. 456 (1996).  As that 8-to-1 Supreme Court ruling noted, there is no legal “presumption that people of all races commit all types of crimes” at the same rate, since such a presumption is “contradicted by” real world data, in which “more than 90% of” convicted cocaine traffickers “were black” in 1994, and “93.4% of convicted LSD dealers were white.”  But the Maryland Board of Education has chosen to ignore reality by proposing a rule that would require school systems to discipline and suspend students in numbers correlated to their race, and require school systems that currently don’t do so to implement plans to eliminate any racially “disproportionate impact” over a three-year period.  Thus, it is imposing quotas in all but name.

In doing so, the Board of Education is apparently unaware of a federal appeals court decision in Chicago that ruled that schools cannot use either racial proportionality rules, or quotas, for school discipline, since that violates the Constitution’s Equal Protection Clause. See People Who Care v. Rockford Board of Education, 111 F.3d 528, 534 (7th Cir. 1997).  That court ruling also said that a school cannot use race to offset “disparate” or “disproportionate impact,” and that doing so is not a valid kind of affirmative action.

Read the whole thing. This is clearly unconstitutional and there is also legal precedent confirming that. But since when did the constitution matter to anyone in the Obama administration?

For now Obama’s panel is just tasked with “promoting” these reverse quotas, but how long until it becomes a mandate? Bader’s piece also highlights how, even without an explicit law on the books, some will just do as they’re told out of fear of negative consequences. So this new policy of Obama’s could have far-reaching consequences. How often do you see public schools that receive federal funding act against the federal government?