Trump Administration Seeks to Cancel Misguided Obama-era School Discipline Policy
WILL work has championed rescinding the illegal, harmful policy
The News: The Trump administration is preparing to cancel and rescind a 2014 Obama-era “Dear Colleague” letter intended to influence school suspension policies by threatening federal action if discipline policies resulted in a “disparate impact” on racial minorities. The Obama policy was intended to combat racial discrimination but resulted in unintended consequences.
Why It Matters: The Obama-era “Dear Colleague” letter was bad law and policy. It was an illegal exercise of administrative power and WILL research found the Obama-era suspension policies imposed on Wisconsin resulted in a negative impact on academic performance.
WILL Research: WILL conducted two studies on the effect of softer discipline policies on Wisconsin schools.
- Feds in the Classroom: The Impact of the Obama Administration’s Discipline Policy on Wisconsin’s Public Schools revealed federal actions meant to encourage changes to discipline policies led to a 41% decrease in suspension rates in Wisconsin public schools.
- Collateral Damage: The Impact of Department of Education Policies on Wisconsin Schools used seven years of data from 2,000 Wisconsin schools and found mathematics and reading proficiency was lower in schools that implemented the softer discipline policies encouraged by the Obama administration.
WILL in Action: In June 2018, WILL spearheaded a letter from conservative leaders across the country to Education Secretary Betsy DeVos encouraging the cancellation of the 2014 “Dear Colleague” letter.
The Bottomline: The Trump administration is ending an illegal and misguided attempt to address racial disparities in school suspensions. School leaders and local officials deserve the authority and trust to create and implement discipline policies without worrying about legal threats from bureaucrats in Washington D.C.
- “New York Times tries and fails to paint Trump administration as racist”, Rick Esenberg, Washington Examiner, December 19, 2018
- “Withdraw the Obama Administration’s ‘Dear Colleague’ Letter on School Discipline”, Roger Clegg and Hans Von Spakovsky, National Review Online, June 15, 2018
- “The negative effects of Obama’s ‘positive’ school discipline policies”, Will Flanders and Natalie Goodnow, New York Daily News, March 16, 2018
- “Obama school discipline policies hurt Wisconsin kids”, Will Flanders and Natalie Goodnow, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, November 27, 2017
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Governor Evers has now admitted that his Executive Order setting these dates violates federal law and he is in the process of setting new dates.