Barack Obama got some bad news this week when a new study found that policies implemented by him and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio to fight what they believed to be racist school-discipline rules have backfired in a big way.
The Blaze reported that the policies resulted in additional violence and a “deteriorated” school climate. In a report titled “School Discipline Reform and Disorder: Evidence from New York City Public Schools, 2012–16,” Manhattan Institute Senior Fellow Max Eden claimed that the policies instituted by de Blasio at the behest of the Department of Education led to more “violence, drug and alcohol use, and gang activity.”
“Specifically, teachers report less order and discipline, and students report less mutual respect among their peers, as well as more violence, drug and alcohol use, and gang activity,” wrote Eden. “There was also a significant differential racial impact: nonelementary schools where more than 90% of students were minorities experienced the worst shift in school climate under the de Blasio reform.”
Eden explained that the reforms forced teachers to ask for written permission to suspend students from district administrators.
“De Blasio … introduced a $1.2 million initiative to train staff from 100 NYC schools in restorative justice and the School Climate Leadership Team to evaluate and report on the progress of his discipline reforms and their impact on school climate,” he said.
These reforms were brought about after civil rights activists claimed school-discipline policies across the country unfairly target minority students and treat white students better. Obama issued a “Dear Colleague” letter afterwards informing schools that they could be investigated by the federal government if they were found to be disproportionately punishing minority students, even if the school’s policy never mentions race and no specific act of racism had occurred.
“In January 2014, the U.S. Department of Education issued a ‘Dear Colleague’ letter, advising districts that if their school discipline policy ‘is neutral on its face—meaning that the policy itself does not mention race—and is administered in an evenhanded manner but has a disparate impact, i.e., a disproportionate and unjustified effect on students of a particular race,’ they could become the subject of a federal civil rights investigation for unlawful discrimination,” explained Eden.
However, Eden found that gang activity on school grounds, violence, and drug and alcohol use increased as a result of the policies. Teachers said there was less order and discipline in the classroom and students reported less “mutual respect.”
Ironically, minority students ended up being harmed the most by the policies.
“Nonelementary schools where more than 90% of students were minorities experienced the worst climate shifts under the de Blasio reform, compared with schools serving a lower percentage of minority students and compared with 90+% minority schools under the reform,” wrote Eden.
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