Double Standards on Discipline

, Steven Koskulitz, Leave a comment

Race-based discipline reform hurts children and cuts against one of the core purposes of schooling, Heather Mac Donald, author of The Diversity Delusion, argued in a lecture presented by the Thomas B. Fordham Institute and the Hoover Institution on Thursday, September 27.

Mac Donald claimed that the penalties for criminal behavior and bad behavior in schools had been reduced for racial reasons: “Any law enforcement or school disciplinary practice that disproportionately affects blacks and Hispanics is deemed racist.” She believes that failure to correct bad behavior in schools will result in criminal activity later in life: “Disparate impact analysis is more consequential in schools than in the area of criminal justice since schools are the last opportunity to correct an individual’s anti-social behavior before he enters society as an adult.” She said: “Students know that the rules have changed and that there are no longer any consequences for their behavior.”

She gave examples of students acting up against teachers and getting away with it. For example, when a teacher in Texas took away a student’s cell phone, the student swore at him, swept away his papers, and shoved him in the face. The teacher gave back the cell phone, and later the principal justified the incident by saying that the student was just “having a bad day.”

Mac Donald said that the current Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos, will likely abolish the agency’s disciplinary guidelines for schools that encourage leniency but “…K-12 education has become so permeated by identity politics and racial victimology that many districts will undoubtedly continue with their de-sanctioning policies anyway.” She also pointed out that many victims of minorities misbehaving in school or committing crimes are also themselves minorities.

She said that schools have had an incorrect view of human nature, ignoring the need to civilize children. Also, she criticized the progressive idea of “student-centered learning,” which involves the idea that students should discover their own knowledge as opposed to teachers exercising greater authority when it comes to the inculcation of knowledge. Even if students have a bad situation at home, schools should still treat them the same as other students: “…the biggest act of faith you can have for a student is say: ‘I’m not going to make an excuse for you, whether it’s on the basis of poverty or race, I’m going to believe that you have within you the capacity to live up to the same standards that everybody else does.’”