Georgetown ‘Inequality’ Official: ‘Imbalance’ of Power Between School Law Enforcement and Black Girls

Black school girls David GoldmanAP
David Goldman/AP

The executive director of the Georgetown Law Center on Poverty and Inequality says the Obama administration’s race-based “restorative justice” policies in schools have focused mainly on limiting suspensions and other disciplinary practices for boys of color, and that it’s time to do the same for black girls.

With funding from George Soros’ Open Society Foundation and a partnership with the National Black Women’s Justice Institute, Rebecca Epstein writes in an op-ed at Education Week that girls of color have often been exposed to “trauma” and “need to take their rightful place on center stage” in public schools.

Epstein says the goal of bringing the issues of black girls into the limelight can at least in part be achieved by exposing the “imbalance” of power between them and school law enforcement.

“This imbalance hardly escapes the notice of girls who, despite any perceived ‘defiance,’ are ultimately vulnerable to officers’ and educators’ decisions and actions,” she explains. “[O]fficers who are in charge of children need tools to identify behavior that may appear to be intentionally troublemaking but is actually rooted in trauma.”

“[A] trauma-sensitive approach to discipline should be an integral part of all school systems’ training and culture,” she adds, referring to the work of Monique Morris, co-founder of the National Black Women’s Justice Institute and author of Pushout: The Criminalization of Black Girls in Schools:

[O]fficers should have the opportunity to receive guidance on the impact of gender and race on girls’ experience—factors that are rarely, if ever, addressed in police trainings. One such example: All basic training should include assistance on how to recognize the signs of sex trafficking. Police also need to learn about the effects of implicit bias. Bias can influence the decisions of officers of any race and is based, in part, on what Morris describes as “[c]aricatures of black femininity that are often deposited into … our public consciousness, narrowly defining black female identity and movement … as hypersexual, conniving, loud, and sassy.”

Ashley Thorne, executive director of the National Association of Scholars, tells Breitbart News that while it is “encouraging to see that police will be directed to recognize signs of sex trafficking,” the “implicit bias” training is “troubling.”

Thorne observes:

It will inevitably make police reluctant to enforce the law for fear of running afoul of a vague rule that will be constantly reinterpreted to their disadvantage. That is what has already happened in the so-called Ferguson Effect. Police are looking away from infractions and allowing a culture of lawlessness to return to the streets in places like New York City. The George Soros-funded initiative would bring the Ferguson Effect to school hallways, cafeterias, and classrooms.

Epstein apparently would like to see girls of color benefit more from the Obama administration’s new “equity” school discipline policy, called #RethinkDiscipline, that is based on disparate impact theory and ultimately prevents school officials from disciplining non-white students. She urges school systems and educators to stop “inappropriately” relying on school police to enforce school rules, a practice she says that “can lead to the improper criminalization of students’ behavior—or the threat thereof.”

But Hans Bader, a Washington, D.C. attorney who has practiced civil rights and constitutional law, tells Breitbart News, “To try to reduce unintended racial disparities, schools, encouraged by the Office for Civil Rights, are replacing suspension for violent offenders with talking circles and ‘restorative justice’ (even as they continue to suspend kids for things like toy guns).”

Bader notes that schools throughout the country – particularly in cities – are finding the Obama administration’s “restorative justice” policies are breeding more violence than ever before.

“People who come from broken homes (and that is disproportionately black kids) are more likely to exhibit defiance,” he explains. “Their disorderly home life carries over to school.”

Bader says the Obama administration’s “restorative justice” policies will ultimately harm black students the most.

“Punishing students who disrupt class for their defiance is not racist, and preventing disruptors from being punished will have a devastating effect on inner-city schools, by depriving the innocent majority of kids of a peaceful oasis in which to learn,” he continues. “Black kids will thus be harmed most.”

Bader further explains that the higher suspension rates among black girls over white or Asian girls are a function of “higher rates of misbehavior (due partly to more black kids coming from broken homes), not racism by school officials.”

Bader wrote at The Daily Caller in 2014:

Misconduct rates are not the same for different races. A 2014 study in the Journal of Criminal Justice by criminologists like John Paul Wright found that racial disparities in student discipline result from more frequent misbehavior by blacks, not racism. The study, entitled “Prior Problem Behavior Accounts for the Racial Gap in School Suspensions,” concluded that higher black suspension rates are “completely accounted for” by students’ own behavior. Since racial disparities are caused by student conduct, getting rid of zero-tolerance will not end them . . .

According to Katherine Kersten, writing at the Star Tribune in March, St. Paul, Minnesota public schools have experienced an increase in violence since the adoption of the Obama administration’s “equity” policies.

“Equity, in today’s ‘newspeak,’ is not about fairness — that is, the same rules for everyone,” she says. “It means quite the opposite. The equity crusade regards people — not as individuals responsible for their own conduct — but, first and foremost, as members of racial and ethnic groups.”

“If one group’s outcomes on social measures are not identical to all of the others’, the cause is presumed to be discrimination and the proper response to be government policies designed to ensure equal statistical results,” she adds.


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