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July 26, 2019

Another Bogus Study on ‘Racist’ School Discipline

U.S. Commission on Civil Rights falsely denies a different rate of misbehavior among races.

The U.S. Commission on Civil Rights recently presented a report alleging that black public-school students are disciplined at a higher frequency and receive more severe punishments than do white public-school students. The report then makes the dubious claim that the rate of misbehavior by black students is no different than that of white students. In other words, the commission report implies that schools and, by extension, teachers and administrators, are discriminating against black students. But are they?

This is a prime example of the “disparate impact” theory at work, which is what the Obama administration applied when ordering that schools discipline black students at the exact same rate as white students. Rather than evaluating behavioral standards, which all students are expected to comply with — an actual equitable system wherein the same exact rules apply to all students irrespective of their race — those complaining about disparate impact advocate that different standards be applied to different racial groups so as to artificially produce equality of outcome, rather than focusing on producing equality of opportunity.

The fact of the matter is that rate of misbehavior among black students is higher than among white students. But note that the rate of misbehavior among white students is higher than that of Asian American students. It would be wrong to conclude from this one statistical analysis, as the commission does, that the reason for the disparity must be a system that is inherently racist against black students.

As Gail L. Heriot, law professor at the University of San Diego Law School, observes, “In 2015, 12.6% of African American students reported being in a fight on school property, as contrasted with 5.6% of white students. Put differently, the African American rate was 125% higher than the white rate.” Heriot further notes that, sadly and ironically, the ultimate victims of the policies meant to “correct” disparate impact are the very minority groups they are supposedly seeking to help. The pretense “certainly does not benefit minority children,” she writes. “To the contrary, they are its greatest victims. African American students disproportionately go to school with other African American students. … If teachers fail to keep order in those classrooms out of fear that they will be accused of racism, it is these minority students who will suffer most.”

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