Posted: 03/25/14 14:53, Edited: 03/25/14 14:56
by Dave Mindeman
Congressman John Kline is again arguing with the Obama administration on education policy.
The Dept. of Education is making an attempt to address the racial disparity in school discipline.....
Last month, the Obama administration took the unusual step of issuing discipline guidance encouraging school districts to craft rules and discipline policies that are fair to students from all backgrounds and to think carefully about so-called "zero-tolerance" policies that federal officials said have led to high rates of suspensions and expulsions, particularly among minority students.
For instance, black students represented just 15 percent of students in national data collected by the Education Department's office for civil rights in 2012. But they made up 35 percent of students suspended once, 44 percent of those suspended more than once, and 36 percent of students expelled, according to Duncan.
In response, Congressman Kline led fellow GOP colleagues on a letter to the administration stating this....
Opposing discrimination is a shared goal. However, recognizing the complexity of school discipline policies, we believe such policies are best handled by the teachers, state officials, and local school leaders who are most equipped to assess the needs of individual students and the school community as a whole. ... Teachers and school officials must have the flexibility to assess the situation and enforce the discipline policies fairly to promote school safety and address inappropriate behavior.
Local control is obviously a goal for school districts. Parents want a say in how their children are educated. It is a good thing. It works.
But not all the time.
What Congressman Kline fails to acknowledge is that local control also means local resources. The situation here shows that racial disparity exists. Urban schools often don't have the type of resources to deal with disciplinary issues. They can't hire the counselors. They can't afford the extra programs......or maybe individual tutors. Yes, teachers would love to have flexibility - but the districts often can't afford to give them that opportunity.
But Kline also had a curious word choice....
In a February letter to Duncan and Holder, Kline agreed that "opposing discrimination is a shared goal," but argued that the federal guidelines "may have a chilling effect" on teachers and school leaders already working to address the issue.
Chilling effect? Why that phrase? Is Kline using an element of fear here because it is a racial disparity? Why not an "equalizing effect" or a "fairness effect" or an "equal opportunity effect"? No, Kline uses the word "chilling" because teacher and administrators are fearful. They need to use the necessary means to discipline without outside interference because they are fearful. At least that is the impression that Congressman Kline seems to want to impart.
Education needs to work the same for everybody. When only local control is allowed then local disparities prevail. We do not need to have Federal guidelines for everything education related. But when it comes to racial disparities, everyone needs to be on the same page.
It is not a "chilling" effect - just fairness.