Feds' New School-Discipline Guidelines Aim to Keep Kids in Classroom

Recommendations seek to curb racial prejudice and stop excessive discipline for minor offenses.

Patch File Photo
Patch File Photo

New federal guidelines aimed at reducing school suspensions for minor offenses that disproportionately affect minorities were unveiled last week by U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan and Attorney General Eric Holder.

According to the Washington Post, Duncan told a crowd at Baltimore’s Frederick Douglass High School that racial discrimination in school discipline is “a real problem today — it’s not just an issue from 30 or 40 or 50 years ago.”

Duncan, in a press release on the U.S. Department of Education website, said the new guidelines would help states, districts and schools enhance the climate for learning.

"Effective teaching and learning cannot take place unless students feel safe at school,"U.S. Duncan said. "Positive discipline policies can help create safer learning environments without relying heavily on suspensions and expulsions. Schools also must understand their civil rights obligations and avoid unfair disciplinary practices. We need to keep students in class where they can learn. These resources are a step in the right direction.”

Tough discipline policies lead schools to expel or suspend about 2 million students a year, Duncan and Holder said. Up to 95 percent of out-of-school suspensions nationally are for nonviolent offenses such as disrupting class, disrespect, tardiness and dress-code violations. Taking a student out of the classroom should be a “last resort,” Duncan said.

U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy supports the new guidelines.

"This is a big step toward solving a big problem," Murphy said in a release. "Exclusionary discipline like suspensions and expulsions rarely works — in fact, it often makes schools less safe and puts kids in a downward spiral that many times ends in the criminal justice system."

Many educators and advocates applauded the new guidelines.

“This is historic,” said Judith Browne Dianis, codirector of the Advancement Project, a civil rights organization, told the Washington Post. “Disparities in school discipline have been documented since the 1970s, and we’ve never been able to get the federal government to step in and help stop it.”

What do you think about the new school-discipline guidelines? Is this a good move or a misguided one?

Paul Chotkowski January 13, 2014 at 10:40 PM
Progressive Collectivists are at it again. Why on God’s green earth is the Federal Government in the form of the U.S. Department of Education, in collaboration with the U.S. Department of Justice issuing guidelines to “Improve School Discipline Policies / Practices”? Until Progressive Collectivists have their way and Common Core Federalizes public education, education is a local issue. So what’s a PC to do in the interim? After all, we have to do something? It is for the children! It’s for the children I say! We have to register all the guns to keep the children safe in school, OOPS that was last year’s crisis. Same argument, different issue but in the end it is all about CONTROL! Executive Rule thru executive departments [who needs Congress]. So we are now burdened with DOJ guidelines and by extension, threats under penalty of federal law that if you don’t do as the Federal Government requires, we will see you in court [take that you whiny Tea Baggers we will bust your local budgets if you dare stand against us]. I’ve read the Constitution of These United States, most of the writings of the founders, and the subsequent Amendments. Nowhere does the Federal Government have authority to tell local school boards and State Departments of Education how to run local schools. If there was ever a case for Nullification, our schools are the place. Tell the Federal Government to keep their guidelines in DC. No local, county or state official will assist them in enforcing DOJ Guidelines. States should toss into a State controlled jail any “Federal Official” who attempts to intimidate a local school board into following DOJ Guidelines. Nullification appears to be an effective approach when dealing with Illegal Aliens in sanctuary cities or “Medical" Marijuana wherever folks want to light up - just ignore the Federal laws you don’t like. Why not the same for our schools. But no, Illegal Aliens have the Progressive Collectivist machine on their side and public schools only have parents who have been trained by their betters to shut up, sit down and do as you are are told or .... it will go on your permanent record!


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