Black students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida could add an effective voice against President Trump’s plan to repeal the Obama administration’s anti-bias school discipline policies.
Trump has directed a commission, led by Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, to make it clear that he opposes former President Barack Obama’s “rethinking discipline” guidance to school districts, the Washington Post reported.
Obama’s 2014 directive notified school districts that the federal government could launch a civil rights investigation if their discipline rates were racially disproportionate. The administration’s overall plan also called for a decrease of law enforcement involvement is school discipline.
Trump’s plan, on the other hand, includes a strategy to “harden our schools” with more security. Typically, an increase security presence all too often leads to cops enforcing school discipline policies—and doing so in a racially biased way that fuels the school-to-prison pipeline. Remember the South Carolina deputy caught in a viral video yanking a Black girl violently from her chair for a minor school policy infraction?
DeVos’ commission is now on a meaningless listening tour to hear all sides, as a Government Accountability Office report released in March reinforces what we’ve known about biased school discipline against Black students.
More than 200 civil rights and education advocacy groups signed a letter on March 22 to DeVos supporting Obama’s reforms. But given Trump’s directive, their voices will fall on deaf ears.
However, Black Parkland students, who are finally getting a national spotlight, could make an impact by adding their voices in opposition to Trump’s policy shift.
The students will join the Rev. Al Sharpton for a gun control rally in June, Sharpton’s National Action Network announced on Saturday. One of the related issues that the students have expressed, in the aftermath of the massacre, is their fear of the increased law enforcement presence at their school in response to the shooting. It’s a change that will be seen at more schools under the Trump plan.
More cops on campus doesn’t mean more protection, Kai Koerber, a 17-year-old Stoneman Douglas junior told the Miami Herald. It means more chances for police brutality.
“It’s bad enough we have to return with clear backpacks. Should we also return with our hands up?” he asked rhetorically, referring to the “hands up don’t shoot” demonstrations in after the wave of police shootings of unarmed Black males that began in 2014.
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