Peter Kirsanow, Republican member of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights and attorney, joined Sunday’s edition of SiriusXM’s Breitbart News Sunday — hosted by Breitbart News Deputy Political Editor Amanda House — to explain how Obama-era education policies drove the implementation of racial and ethnic quotas regarding disciplinary actions towards students.
The Obama administration wanted equal rates of disciplinary outcomes — including suspensions and expulsions — between different racial and ethnic groups of students, explained Kirsanow.
A Democrat state senator and a Teamsters president credited the aforementioned Obama administration school discipline policy with “chaos” in New York City schools and a lack of “accountability” for dangerous behavior.
Kirsanow said, “This was an imminently predictable consequences of the 2014 school discipline guidance that was jointly-issued by the Obama Justice Department and Education Department, which sought to equalize the rates of suspensions and expulsions between students of different races.”
Obama-era policies led to the application of racial and ethnic quotas across schools’ disciplinary enforcement, noted Kirsanow:
It’s always been the case that black and Hispanic students had markedly higher suspension and expulsion rates than white and Asian students. The Obama administration attributed this to, apparently, intentional discrimination rather than acts that might merit suspensions and expulsions being committed by black and Hispanic students at a higher rate than did whites and Asians.
So, what the Office of Civil Rights for the Department of Justice and the Department of Education did was issue a school guidance which would trigger investigations by those two departments if the suspension and expulsion rates between races were markedly different, and of course, some of the administrators, because they ideologically were sympathetic to this, or more likely, because they didn’t want to expend the time and resources and possibly lose millions of dollars in federal funds if they didn’t address this issue, so what happened is, you arrived at having quotas because you had to lower the expulsion and suspension rates for black and Hispanic students — and fairly significantly — because the rates of suspension and expulsion for black and Hispanic students, it varies from district to district — is about three to four times that of white and Asian students. Hispanic students is a little bit less than for black students, but it’s still higher than for white and Asian students.
Rather than reduce the volume of unacceptable student behaviors, continued Kirsanow, schools implemented racial and ethnic quotas in disciplinary policies to achieve the Obama administration’s policy goals:
So a lot of school districts — in fact, each of the 53 largest — implemented a plan whereby they, frankly, just equalized the suspension rates. They took the easy way out as opposed to trying to see if they could reduce the offenses being committed.
Only those who are blinkered by political correctness and kind of sclerotic political ideology did not see this coming. We predicted it when we had hearings on this in the Civil Rights Commission. What I mean by “we” is the two conservative numbers of the eight on the Civil Rights Commission. This is common sense, and it didn’t just occur in New York … but we saw a lot of this at a number of major school districts. The one that jumped out immediately was Minneapolis, St. Paul, where the rates of crimes being committed, beatings being committed, all types of dangerous unacceptable behavior rose spiked dramatically after that district implemented this guidance, and that’s the case nationwide.
Kirsanow shared some statistics of the rise of violent crime across America’s schools as suspensions and expulsions were lowered in pursuit of adherence with Obama-era education policies:
The last hearing we had on this was about a year ago, and we had a number of experts testify with respect to the percentage increase and it’s been startling. In 2016 alone, 1,000 more violent physical assaults occurred per day nationwide than in the previous year, and it’s been going up since that time.
In fact, there were 130,000 fewer student expelled in 2016, and 160,000 more violent acts. It’s almost as if you could a graph to show the intersection between the spike in violent incidents –and it’s not just violence, there are things like graffiti, vandalism, acting up in class, disrupting class — but the [increases in] violent instances of disciplinary behavior were astonishing, and you could see the rise in those types of behaviors in direct contrast to the drop in the number of suspensions at the relative schools.
Various teachers testified to the degradation of school discipline yielded by the Obama administration’s racial and ethnic education directives, said Kirsanow:
So to put a face on it, we had a number of school teachers testify that the schools were out of control. The classrooms were out of control. One of the teachers testified about being beaten severely, one testified about suffering really egregious injuries. One teacher had brain damage, as a result. These are not isolated incidents. They’re not the most dramatic incidents. If you look at the stats, you’ve truly got hundreds of thousands of more students per year who report that they have missed one or more days in the school year because they were fearful of going to class and being next to or being in the hallways with these violent perpetrators who should, by all rights, be suspended or expelled.
Kirsanow rejected the “school-to-prison pipeline” narrative advanced by Democrats and the broader left. Obama-era racial and ethnic education policies, he added, emboldened dangerous and disruptive students:
I think it’s one of the most brain-dead arguments I’ve heard in my 17 years on the Civil Rights Commission, and I hate to put it in those stark terms but there’s not other way of putting it. I am sick of these kinds of tropes, such as school-to-prison pipeline. You’re going to have a school-to-hospital pipeline for a lot of students who sit next to individuals who do not fear discipline, whatsoever, and that’s what some of the teachers told us.
They told us that these students knew they couldn’t be expelled, 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, almost mocking these teachers, and this was going on across the country. It’s not a mystery, and it is disrupting those students who come actually come there and want to learn.
What we heard from one school administrator was that the purported aim [of the Obama administration’s policies] was to forestall the school-to-prison pipeline for black and Hispanic students, to help them graduate and give them an opportunity for a better life, but what they completely missed was the good students who were behaving themselves who now can’t learn adequately because their school is disrupted by these students who should actually be expelled or suspended, or at least fear that they could be disciplined.
“They don’t even have a fear of being disciplined to modulate their behavior,” concluded Kirsanow of misbehaving students buoyed by the Obama administration’s education policies.
Breitbart News Sunday broadcasts live on SiriusXM Patriot 125 from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. Eastern (4 p.m. to 7 p.m. Pacific).
Follow Robert Kraychik on Twitter @rkraychik.