Consider me on record as being against "Zero Tolerance" policies; pretty much in general, but especially in schools. The very notion of zero tolerance is an idiotic concept, it restricts authorities from being able to use their own judgment in determining individual cases. Its led to idiocy like teenagers being suspended for consensual hugging, 7 year old boys being suspended for pretending their fish stick was a gun, or honors students being expelled for bringing as dangerous a weapon as nail-clippers to school with them.
It has been proven to do nothing to prevent violence in schools. It almost certainly does nothing to improve behavior, and it doesn't even manage to prevent a statistically credible problem involving school administrators potentially being more harsh with discipline against students of certain race or gender and more lenient to others; before 'zero tolerance', there may well have been cases of a prejudiced administrator giving a white kid in school less of a punishment for the same misbehavior than a black kid; after 'zero tolerance', the same corrupt administrator would just end up suspending/expelling the black kid and letting the white kid off scot-free.
The problem, you see, is with poor administrators. Thus, it isn't something that can be solved with regulation if you don't fix the regulators. But of course, with teacher's unions on the one hand and a general public hungry for quick-fixes that seem to be 'doing something' on the other, it just seems much easier to introduce what seems like a tough-on-crime policy than actually reforming the fundamental system.
So now it seems that the Obama administration has decided they don't like Zero Tolerance either. Great! Only as you might expect from the left wing, they think that the solution is to replace one set of idiotic regulations with another.
The Department of Education together with the Justice Department has now issued new regulations to schools throughout the country urging them to drop zero-tolerance in favor of a new policy that seeks to correct above all what they call "disparate impact". This in brief is the phenomenon I already hinted about above: that statistically, children of certain minority groups (African Americans, Latinos) are considerably more likely to be suspended from school than white students. The DoE/DoJ paper suggests that from now on American schools should above all strive to make sure that their numbers demonstrate 'equality': schools that end up suspending more black kids, hispanic kids, or special-ed kids than other kids will be considered "suspect".
These new school rules will consider demographics over discipline, but it ignores a very real problem: the simple fact is that while there are undoubtedly cases of racial prejudice or other biases on the parts of teachers and administrators that could lead to unfair disciplining, there's also realistically social problems that have nothing to do with race in and of itself but that occur along racial lines (as well as other demographic details, like gender) which means that kids of certain demographics are not just more likely to be unfairly disciplined, they're also more likely to have discipline problems that MUST be dealt with in order to prevent absolute chaos in the schools.
Inner-city schools are likely to have a higher proportion of minority students than schools in the suburbs; they're also much more likely to have discipline problems for all kinds of reasons (poverty, crime in the local environment, gangs, drugs, and underfunded or neglected schools themselves, for that matter). The reality is that in these schools you're more likely to have kids with discipline problems, and those kids are more likely to be of certain minorities.
So with this new policy, what options are left to schools? Only two: the first would be that in order to avoid becoming "suspect" in the government's eyes, teachers and administrators find themselves forced to NOT discipline students of certain racial background that commit violence or crime in schools. Of course, this first option just isn't violence, schools in this situation would fall to pieces as criminal delinquents would be able to get away with destroying the school environment with impunity.
So I have to assume even liberal school administrators wouldn't be that crazy. The only other option, however, is to try to keep up "quotas", and the only way to do this is by punishing children that don't fit those particular minority demographics MORE harshly, applying more strict rules to try to "balance things out". If you suspend a Hispanic kid for drug-dealing, and you can't find any drug-dealing white kid in your school to suspend, then you're just going to have to suspend a white kid for throwing an eraser in class. If a black kid beats another student up in school and you have to expel him, you'll have to find an Asian to expel for speaking too loudly in the school hallway.
Which brings up another issue: this isn't just black vs. white. The same statistical survey that demonstrated that black students are (proportionally) three times more likely to be expelled from school than white students also showed that Asian students are even less likely to be expelled than either group. Is this because there is a dastardly pro-Asian agenda in our schools? Or could it be that for reasons of economics, culture, and upbringing Asian kids are just much less likely to get in trouble in school?
While we're at it, in general boys any race are VASTLY more likely to be suspended or expelled than girls. I can't believe that this is entirely due to a pernicious feminist "war on boys"; I think most likely its that both cultural and biological elements related to gender make girls, on the whole, less likely to commit the types of delinquency that lead to suspensions or expulsions.
But if we are to avoid "disparate impact" it means schools will have to be increasingly more vehement in their disciplining of girls than boys, of Asians than caucasians, in order to make sure they aren't "suspect" of discrimination for choosing to suspend people based on what they actually DO.
Shit, if you're an Asian schoolgirl in America, you're about to have a very rough year...
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