Biden-Sanders ‘Unity’ Doc Urges Return to Obama-Era School Leniency Policy for ‘Children of Color’

New federal guidelines seek to curb racial disparities in school discipline procedures, which can end up feeding students to the 'school-to-prison pipeline' Phillipe Huguen/AFP/Getty Images
New federal guidelines seek to curb racial disparities in school discipline procedures, which can end up feeding students to the 'school-to-prison pipeline' Phillipe Huguen/AFP/Getty Images

The Joe Biden-Bernie Sanders Unity Task Force recommendations released Wednesday state that, if Biden wins the presidency, public schools will likely return to the Obama-era policy of leniency for unacceptable behavior by “children of color.”

The Juvenile Justice Reform section of the document (page 61) recommends schools be instructed to end the “school-to-prison pipeline” by stopping “the practice of arresting children for behavior that ought to be handled in the principal’s office.”

Offenses such as “truancy and alcohol use” would be decriminalized in public schools under a Biden administration, and schools would lose their federal funding if they did not agree to automatically expunge and seal juvenile records that detail offenses.

Under a Biden presidency, schools would be required to once again follow joint directives from the Departments of Education and Justice “to reduce the disparate disciplinary treatment of children of color in school and educational settings.”

Instead of referrals to law enforcement for criminal behavior, a Biden administration would “incentivize states to develop community-based alternatives to prison and detention centers for youth.”

States would receive funding only if they developed “after-school programs, community centers, and summer jobs to provide opportunities for young people at risk.”

The Biden-Sanders unity document further recommends that states be incentivized to “raise the minimum age at which an individual may be tried in adult court.”

In comments to Breitbart News regarding the juvenile justice proposals, Peter Kirsanow, an attorney and a member of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, said the recommendation to return to the Obama guidance:

…on alleged disparate disciplinary treatment [amounts to] despicable racial pandering utterly divorced from the real world, where most black parents are trying desperately to get their kids a decent education without – at minimum – being disrupted, let alone assaulted.

Kirsanow asserted, citing evidence adduced during the Civil Rights Commission’s hearing on the Obama disparate impact guidance and the “School to Prison” pipeline:

The recommendation is a proven prescription for classroom chaos and dysfunction based on the racist assumption that minority schoolchildren are incapable of following basic behavioral norms in school.

Kirsanow, chair of the board of directors of the Center for New Black Leadership and a member of the advisory board of the National Center for Public Policy Research, observed that when the Obama administration released its school discipline guidance in 2014, which, he said, “effectively urged more lenient discipline toward disruptive students,” the result was “violence in schools soared.”

He continued:

The directive to eliminate racially disparate impact in suspensions completely ignores the unfortunate fact that black and Hispanic students are three to four times more likely than white and Asian students to commit offenses resulting in suspension or expulsion. By not removing seriously disruptive students from the classroom, the remaining students are harmed – both physically and in their ability to learn. Immediately after the Obama administration implemented their guidance, seeking to equalize suspension rates on the basis of race, school-based crimes spiked dramatically. There were 1,000 more violent assaults on students and teachers nationwide per day.

“They tout the fact that there were 130,000 fewer students expelled in the year following issuance of the guidance, but conveniently ignore that there were 160,000 more acts of violence,” he added.

In March 2019, while a guest on SiriusXM’s Breitbart News Sunday, Kirsanow called the “school-to-prison pipeline” narrative “one of the most brain-dead arguments I’ve heard in my 17 years on the Civil Rights Commission.”

He said teachers told the Civil Rights Commission when students realized they would not be expelled for assaultive behavior, they “knew that the onus was on the teacher to try to explain why it is that they want to discipline the student and they were mocking these teachers … and this was going on across the country.”

“It’s not a mystery, and it is disrupting those students who actually come there and want to learn,” he added.

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