Democrat Lawmaker and Teamster President: ‘Chaos’ in Schools Since Obama-Era Discipline Policy, ‘No Accountability’ for Dangerous Behavior

The Associated Press
AP Photo/Mark Lennihan
DR. SUSAN BERRY

A Democrat state senator and a Teamsters president said the dramatic drop in school suspensions in New York City since the Obama-era policy urging more lenient forms of discipline for minority students has led to “chaos” and a lack of  “accountability” for dangerous behavior.

New York state Sen. Leroy Comrie told CBS New York that schools in his Queens district are losing the confidence of parents.

“They’re taking their children to other schools even if they have to pay for private schools,” he said. “They don’t want to have to have their children in an environment where they’re assaulted and there’s no accountability.”

Comrie pointed to a new study from John Jay College’s Data Collaborative for Justice that found a stark 49 percent drop in school suspensions in New York City from academic year 2010-2011 to 2016-2017. During that time period, suspensions plummeted from 63,635 to 32,331.

According to the study:

Black students consistently had the highest suspension rates, followed by Hispanic, White, and Asian students in middle and high school. For instance, in 2016-17, the suspension rate for Black students in middle and high school was 2.8 times the rate for White students.

“They need to look at the in-house suspension program and change it,” Comrie said. “There has to be some kind of positive discipline that can happen… they need to be separated from the school population.”

Teamster President Gregory Floyd, who represents school safety officers, referred to what is happening in schools as “chaos.”

“There’s chaos in our schools and it’s going to get worse,” he said, according to CBS New York. “The children know they can get away with everything.”

In New York City, Floyd noted the decline in discipline began when Mayor Bill DeBlasio began issuing warning cards to students who engaged in assaultive behavior instead of criminal summonses.

“Parents should be outraged,” Floyd said. “They should be horrified and outraged.”

New York City Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza, however, continued the Obama-era talking points, claiming the drop in suspensions was beneficial to students who engage in unacceptable behavior so they can avoid incarceration.

“What we don’t want is to put students on a school to prison pipeline,” Carranza said. “The minute you put a student into the criminal justice system you’ve started him on a path. We’re educators, we’re about preventing students from having that kind of a track record.”

The goal, instead, according to Carranza, is “redirecting student behavior giving students different ways to not only behave but behave in a social environment.”

However, in March 2018, U.S. Commission on Civil Rights member Peter Kirsanow told Breitbart News the Obama-era policy had led to a sense of fear in schools.

“Students (and teachers) have reported being fearful of going to school,” said Kirsanow, who also chairs the board of directors of the Center for New Black Leadership. “One school principal stated unequivocally that the people that are most harmed are the good students who want to learn but are harmed by the chaotic environment.”

Kirsanow said the literature on racial disparities in disciplinary rates often omits key data.

“Much of the literature that focuses on racial disparities in disciplinary rates recites statistics showing that black and Hispanic students are 3—4 times more likely to be suspended than white and Asian students,” he explained. “But the same literature often leaves out data showing that black and Hispanic students are far more likely than white and Asian students to commit the types of offenses resulting in suspension.”

In December, the Trump Departments of Education and Justice rescinded the Obama-era disciplinary guidance. A federal safety commission found the Obama-era policy “may have paradoxically contributed to making schools less safe.”

Some education policy experts have observed the Broward County school district’s policy that includes consideration of race and minority status where discipline is concerned, inspired the Obama administration’s guidance and may have played a role in the fact that Nikolas Cruz remained under the radar until his shooting rampage in Parkland, Florida, on February 14, 2018.

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