Home > Uncategorized > Ballyhooed USDOE Report on School Safety a Nothing-Burger on Guns… But DOES Recommend Repealing Obama Regulation on Punishment of Minorities

Ballyhooed USDOE Report on School Safety a Nothing-Burger on Guns… But DOES Recommend Repealing Obama Regulation on Punishment of Minorities

December 20, 2018

Earlier this week, the USDOE issued it’s much anticipated report on school safety and, as reported in Politico, it was full of nothing. Well, the on-line journal didn’t say that exactly, instead it put it this way:

The final report in many ways is largely symbolic, amounting to a list of ideas states and school districts can take or leave on issues like school mental health.

“A list of ideas” but no specific recommendations about arming teachers, which the GOP favored, no ideas about providing more mental health services, which both sides of the aisle seemed to agree on, nothing on gun laws…. and, of course, nothing calling for additional spending except at the local level:

“Our conclusions in this report do not impose one-size-fits-all solutions for everyone, everywhere,” DeVos told reporters on a conference call. “The primary responsibility for the physical security of schools and the safety of their students naturally rests with states and local communities. Local problems need local solutions.”

But the report DID include one specific recommendation: the rescinding of the Obama administration’s 2014 directive on school discipline that, in Politico’s words:

…sought to confront a widespread problem: that minority students and students with disabilities are disciplined, suspended out of school and expelled more often.

The logic leading to the inclusion of this recommendation in the USDOE report was reminiscent of the tortuous logic that linked Sadam Hussein to the 9-11 bombings. None of the school shootings that prompted this report were in any way the result of this directive, yet since it was put in place by the former President it was widely despised by conservatives. Here’s Politico’s explanation:

Conservatives have long maintained the Obama instructions made schools less safe, arguing that school leaders in Broward County, Fla., where Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School is located, and elsewhere have been much more reluctant to report dangerous students because of such policies. The guidelines came under scrutiny from Republicans like Florida Sen. Marco Rubio after the Parkland school shooting.

Rubio said it “may have contributed to systemic failures to report Nikolas Cruz,” the accused gunman in Parkland, to police sooner when he exhibited disturbing behavior.

And the law and order crowd also flagged the “soft” restorative justice program put in place in the district where one of the shootings took place:

Republicans also criticized a 2013 decision by Broward schools to overhaul the district’s school discipline policies and launch a program to replace some suspensions, expulsions and arrests with support, mentoring and counseling when students committed nonviolent offenses.

The Politico post concludes with this quote, which captures my thinking on the panel’s findings:

The group Educators for Excellence was among those expressing disappointment over the school discipline recommendation.

Rescinding the guidance and failing to put forward a concrete plan of how schools can end unjust discipline disparities reflects a true failure of leadership,” said Marisa Crabtree, a member of the organization and Los Angeles teacher who met with DeVos in April.


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