By Amy Alkon
shared this story
from Advice Goddess Blog.
Walter Olson blogs at Overlawyered about what at first sounds like a good thing, a “Dear Colleague” letter sent out by the DOJ and the Dept. of Ed to discourage the pursuit of strict discipline policies by schools for “minor” infractions.
Olson writes that early coverage of the policy makes it sound like the letter is aimed at correcting the absurd “zero tolerance” policies I often blog about. But…
Unfortunately, there’s much more. The letter represents the culmination of a years-long drive toward imposing tighter Washington oversight on school discipline policies that result in “disparate impact” among racial or other groups. Policies that result in the suspension of differentially more minority kids, or special-ed kids, will now be suspect — even if the rate of underlying behavior is not in fact uniform among every group. (Special-ed kids, for example, include many placed in that category because of emotional and behavioral problems that correlate with a higher likelihood of acting out in misbehavior. Boys misbehave more than girls.)
If the policy helps speed the correction of some overly harsh, mechanical school policies, both under the zero-tolerance rubric and otherwise, it may have some positive side effects. But the disparate-impact premise is a pernicious one that’s sure to create many new problems of its own.
Martin Luther King’s “content of character” notion has apparently been torn up and thrown away by the Obama administration.
Now there are punishment quotas. Forget who misbehaves. Now we’ll have color charts for who can be punished.