Education Secretary Betsy DeVos held a meeting in December with educators to discuss a 2014 Obama-era directive that called on school officials to end the disproportionate discipline of students of color, Education Week reported. There’s now some chatter among Trump conservatives that DeVos is planning to revoke President Barack Obama’s guidance document. That would remove federal pressure on school districts to turn off the school-to-prison pipeline.
More than 40 school districts had committed to significant changes in their discipline policies through an Obama-era program called Rethink School Discipline, former Education Secretary John King told NewsOne when he headed the department. He added that the administration was making progress but recognized that “there’s a lot more work to do.”
Obama’s 2014 guidance notified school districts that the government could launch a civil rights investigation if their discipline rates were racially disproportionate. In many cases under review, school districts were punishing Black students more harshly for the same offenses that White students committed. Often, that punishment involved law enforcement. That oversight could soon come to an end, according to Breitbart News. Conservatives are making progress toward pressuring DeVos to revoke the Obama directive.
African-American students are three times more likely than White students to be expelled or suspended, according to an Obama-era resource guide for school superintendents. The disparities start early. Black children represented just 18 percent of preschoolers but nearly half of preschoolers suspended more than once. There were 10,393 education-based civil rights complaints in fiscal year 2015, according to a report, titled Delivering Justice. Things will go back to business as usual if DeVos revokes the Obama guidance.