• Attorney General issues new race-based standards for dealing with troublemakers in schools
By Keith Johnson
As if the learning environment in the United States public school system weren’t already bad enough, the Obama administration has now made things much worse with new race-biased federal guidelines that will shield black and Latino students from disciplinary action for their disruptive and often violent behavior.
During a January 8 press conference, Attorney General Eric Holder blamed “zero-tolerance” classroom policies for creating a “school-to-prison pipeline,” where punishments are sometimes meted out via the criminal justice system rather than being handled internally.
“Ordinary troublemaking can sometimes provoke responses that are overly severe, including out of school suspensions, expulsions and even referral to law enforcement and then you end up with kids that end up in police precincts instead of the principal’s office,” Holder said.
Although he does raise a legitimate concern, Holder’s racially divisive politics negate any possibility that his efforts will lead to meaningful reform. Much like hate crime legislation, the new federal guidelines on school discipline pave the way for selective enforcement by assigning protected status to non-white groups. In a letter to school districts, the U.S. Departments of Justice and Education attempt to justify these discriminatory mandates by citing a few questionable research studies that suggest that black students are unfairly targeted for disciplinary action by racist teachers and school administrators.
“For example, in our investigations, we have found cases where African-American students were disciplined more harshly and more frequently because of their race than similarly situated white students,” the letter said. “In short, racial discrimination in school discipline is a real problem.”
Under the new guidelines, school administrators will now be compelled to think twice before taking punitive action against non-white students. In addition to proving that their disciplinary policies “are necessary to meet an important educational goal,” educators must also ensure that any resulting punishments do not have an “adverse impact on students of a particular race as compared with students of other races.”
It should come as no surprise that the fed’s recent move has been warmly embraced by many so-called black leaders, including National Association for the Advancement of Colored People Interim President and CEO Lorraine C. Miller, who applauded the new dictates as a “giant step in improving the disciplinary policies that impede the educational growth and development of students across the country, particularly in communities of color.”
There are, however, a few black leaders who aren’t nearly as enthused. Among them is Joe Hicks, former executive director of the Los Angeles City Human Relations Commission and current board member of The National Leadership Network of Black Conservatives.
During a recent interview with this AMERICAN FREE PRESS reporter, Mr. Hicks discussed the new federal guidelines and explained why he is vehemently opposed to them.
“There’s no doubt that far more black and Latino kids are being expelled, suspended and disciplined in our public schools,” Hicks said. “But the question that is never asked by Holder, Obama or any of the leftist liberal activists championing this cause is why?”
Hicks contends the answer may lie in the fact that many black youths have been raised in a “tangled culture of dysfunction” that has plagued urban centers since the late 1960s.
“I’ve lived in the inner city here in Los Angeles, so I know this problem very well,” he said. “Kids are coming out of these dysfunctional environments without a father in the home to mete out discipline. In many cases, they’re raised by mothers who work long hours and are unable to keep track of their children’s activities. So when they walk into these schools, they bring their attitudes and street culture with them.”
All of these contributing factors, Hicks said, produce a child that is “angry, hostile” and more likely to “act out” against those in positions of authority.
When asked if there’s any substance to the claim that black students are being unfairly disciplined because of their race, Hicks replied: “In many of the [school] districts that have been sued for their disciplinary policies, you’ll find—in many cases—black administrators and a sizeable number of black teachers. So the notion that we have this cabal of white racist principals, teachers and administrators that are picking on black kids because of their race is absurd on its face.”
Hicks continued: “There have always been bad kids who come from bad circumstances and bad parents. The point is, schools have always dealt with it. But now, we’re in this touchy-feely world where we have the attorney general of the United States involving himself in how our local schools choose to discipline kids. It’s one of the more outrageous things I’ve ever seen, and parents should be up in arms about it.”