The Feds Have Not Convinced Parents, Teachers, or the General Public on School Discipline

In the National Review, Paul Peterson writes

In January 2014, the Obama administration’s Departments of Justice and Education, acting together, sent every school district in the country a letter warning local officials to avoid racial bias when suspending or expelling students.

he letter said that African Americans receive about 35 percent of one-time suspensions and about 36 percent of expulsions, even though they account for only about 15 percent of students attending public schools.

The departments, citing the Civil Rights Act of 1964, gave the school districts ‘guidance on how to identify, avoid, and remedy discriminatory discipline,’ telling them they risked legal action if school disciplinary policies had “a disparate impact, i.e., a disproportionate and unjustified effect on students of a particular race.”

Peterson notes that the legal basis for this action is questionable. He continues

But whatever its legal basis, does the Obama administration’s new policy have broad-based support? To find out, we at the Harvard Program on Education Policy and Governance have asked nationally representative cross-sections of parents, teachers, and the general public (as part of the ninth annual Education Next survey, conducted in May and June of this year) whether they support or oppose “federal policies that prevent schools from expelling or suspending black and Hispanic students at higher rates than other students.”

Only 23 percent of parents favor the new policy, while 54 percent oppose it, with the remainder responding that they neither support nor oppose the idea. Among the public as a whole, opposition is just about as large, with 51 percent opposing the “no disparate impact” policy, and just 21 percent backing the idea.

Read more at:

– Education Next

Last Updated


Notify Me When Education Next

Posts a Big Story

Business + Editorial Office

Program on Education Policy and Governance
Harvard Kennedy School
79 JFK Street, Cambridge, MA 02138
Phone (617) 496-5488
Fax (617) 496-4428

For subscription service to the printed journal
Phone (617) 496-5488

Copyright © 2024 President & Fellows of Harvard College