by Hans Bader
Crime rates are not the same for different racial groups, and student misconduct rates aren’t, either. The Supreme Court ruled many years ago that such racial disparities don’t prove racism or unconstitutional discrimination. But in guidance issued last week by the Justice and Education Departments, the Obama Administration signaled that it will hold school districts liable for such racial disparities under federal Title VI regulations. In the long run, the only practical way for school districts to comply with this guidance is to tacitly adopt unconstitutional racial quotas in school discipline. This will result in increased school violence.
It will also result in discrimination in discipline against white and Asian students, an increased racial achievement gap that harms black students, and more white flight from inner-city schools. And it will harm higher education, too, since the Education Department’s Title VI disparate-impact rules apply to colleges and universities as well.
The administration made very clear that it viewed such racial disparities, which exist in virtually all school systems, as generally being the product of racism by school officials, not “more frequent or more serious misbehavior by students of color.” Moreover, it also made clear that even if the school district proves itself innocent of racism, it will still be held liable for “racially disparate impact“ – non-racist conduct that unintentionally has a discriminatory effect on a racial group, even though it treats individuals of all races alike – unless the school district shows that its discipline not only furthers an important educational purpose, but also does not lead to more suspensions of minorities than other (more ideologically-fashionable) methods of discipline that the government views as equally effective.
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