tv Federal School Discipline Directive CSPAN March 12, 2018 8:00pm-9:01pm EDT
our panelists. [ applause ] coming up tonight on c-span3, education specialists on the federal school discipline directive. at 9:30 p.m., landmark cases. then a discussion on the relationship between the u.s., taiwan, and japan. and later, a hearing on ending scams against the elderly and senior citizens. next, a discussion on the federal school discipline directive issued under the obama administration. in 201the heritage foundation
hosted a panel about the pros and cons, and talked about the possibility of the trump administration rescinding the policy. this is an hour. >> thank you for being here today to discuss this important issue. differences in suspension rates among different student races would be -- that threat alone c catalyzed many changes. evidence suggests that school safety has declined. survey data, stories from across
the country suggests that schools have become less orderly and less safe. if you want to be serious about the safety of students, you must look at the consequence of failing to punish and correct serious wrongdoing by troubled students. to discuss this issue in depth today, we have an excellent panel of scholars and practitioners. first, we will hear from gail harriet. she is professor of law at the university of san diego and specializes in labor law, products liability, torts and civil rights. harriet clerked on the illinois supreme court. prior to entering academia, she practiced in chicago, and in washington, d.c. she also served as civil rights council on the judiciary commission.
and is an associate and professor of law at george mason school of law. she joined the faculty in 1989. she is currently a member of the united states commission on civil rights and sits on the board of directors of the national association of scholars and the california association of scholars. i'd like to mention, she is the author of a new paper along with her co-author who is in the audience today, obama era initiative on racial disparities and school discipline, wrong for students, teachers, and wrong for the law. next, max eden. he was a program manager at the american enterprise institute. he was coeditor with frederick hess of the every student succeeds act. his work appeared on the scholarly and popular outlets.
following his remarks, we will hear from robert pondicio, who is a senior fellow and vice president of external affairs at the thomas b. fordham institute. he is also a former senior adviser to democracy prep public charter schools and charters based in harlem, new york. he writes and speaks extensively on education and education reform issues, with an emphasis on literacy, curriculum, and urban education. after 20 years in journalism, including senior citizens at "time" and "business week," he became a fifth-grade teacher at a struggling south bronx school. he also served as vice president for the core knowledge foundation. finally, regina weldon ford, who founded d.c. for choice. it is a health organization for parents in washington, d.c., and that founding led to the
successful establishment of the d.c. opportunity scholarship program, a school choice option in the nation's capital. she is also a founding member of the black alliance for educational options and served on the d.c. advisory committee for the civil rights commission. she currently serves on the board of the freedman foundation and the arkansas connections academy. she is executive director of the arkansas information network, working to make more choices available to arkansas parents. she is also a visiting fellow at the heritage foundation. please join me in welcoming our panelists. [ applause ] >> thank you, lindsay.
and thank you, heritage foundation, for sponsoring this symposium. i have only ten minutes. let me concentrate on two points here. i suspect a lot of people agree with me that the policy and practice of school discipline should not be a federal issue. the federal role under title vi of the civil rights act of 1964 should be confined to investigating and acting on particularized allegations of race discrimination. otherwise, discipline is a matter that is best handled at the local level, where teachers know the students, know the facts on the ground better than bureaucrats do. element -- almost everybody has has experience with bureaucracies. even when the edicts sound reasonable, at the time they reached the foot soldiers on the ground, they get garbled. if the federal government had said, don't discipline minority students unless it is justified, it would have sounded reasonable. but that is naturally understood by school districts as, don't discipline a minority student
unless you are confident you can persuade some future federal investigator whose judgment you have no reason to trust that it was justified. in turn, that is presented to principals as don't discipline a minority student unless you and your teachers jump to the following time-consuming procedural hoops designed to document the satisfaction of some future federal investigator whose judgment none of us have any reason to trust that it was justified. finally, teachers hear the directive this way, just don't discipline so many students. it will only create giant hassles for everyone. this is in the nature of bureaucracy, ladies and gentlemen. those who complain that schools overreact are howling at the moon. it's inevitable.
it essentially told schools that if your teachers and principals are disciplining her personally more african-american students than white or asian students, we are coming after you with massive investigations and threats to cut off your funding. under this approach, it is not actually race discrimination that gets schools in trouble, it is having bad numbers. the law forbids actual discrimination. it does not forbid bad numbers. nobody disputes that african-american students are disciplined at higher rates than white students or asian students nationally. but what if the reason for that is that african-american students misbehave more often? what if the cost of failure to discipline those students falls on their fellow african-american students who are trying to learn amid classroom disorder?
incidentally, i should point out that white students get disciplined at rates higher than asian students, and that boys get disciplined much more than girls, and yet no one seems very interested in those numbers. it is virtually undisputed that students who come from disadvantaged backgrounds are more likely to misbehave than students from middle-class backgrounds. not surprisingly, therefore, when empirical studies are undertaken, they find when soes -- socioeconomic disadvantage is taken into account, the difference shrinks. it does not disappear altogether. african-american people who are disadvantaged is still somewhat more likely to be disciplined. that may be because the most widely used measure of
disadvantage is inadequate. eligibility for the free or reduced price lunch program. remember, students from yale might well qualify for a free lunch. in any event, the remaining racial difference does not prove discrimination. the most likely immediate expiration for the racial gap in discipline is that teachers are being honest. for whatever reason, african-americans misbehave in class more than whites and whites misbehave more than asians and boys misbehave more than girls. by far, the best study in this area is called prior problem behavior accounts for the racial gap in school suspensions. it found prior problem behavior, not race, is the best predictor of who will get suspended from school. in other words, the teachers are being upfront and identifying
students who are misbehaving. especially for the worst offenders, it tends to be the same kids over and over again, regardless of race. once prior behavior is taken into account, race drops out as a predictor entirely. meanwhile, however, the obama administration's policies have had severely negative effects. first, it has caused schools to back away from discipline generally, with the result of more chaotic classrooms. second, it has led to real discrimination, where white and asian students on the one hand and african-american students on the other operate under a different discipline rule, all in order to make the numbers look good. all in all, i would say we have a mess on our hands. i would certainly urge the department of education to withdraw the dear colleague letter establishing that policy.
we need to put teachers and principals back in charge. they may not always get it right. but we have a much better shot at getting it better than the federal government does. now, for point two, for telling schools they can have their funding cut, the obama administration was misstating the law. let me explain that. for the nonlawyers among you, by disparate impact liability, the government means that it does not matter whether the teachers are actually treating students differently based on race. solely because african-americans are misbehaving more often, the school is still in trouble
unless it can prove its discipline method is necessary. they have to prove, for example, that before suspending a student for, say, punching another student out, they are just giving him a good talking to or taking away his library privileges. that is just not the law. title vi, the statute that supposedly is being enforced here, outlaws actual race discrimination, not disparate impact. the supreme court has repeatedly said so, and no one disputes that. the department of education during the obama administration argued instead that way back in 1966, the federal government issued all-purpose title vi regulations that go beyond title vi by creating liability for disparate impact.
we don't have time to go through all the reasons why that is wrong. i will say that when clarence thomas ruled for civil rights, he did not interpret them that way. if that were the regulations, it would create giant problems since a lot of what schools do has a disparate impact on some racial group. it's not always the same group. for example, do we need to place the basketball hoop so high up? it makes it disproportionally harder for asian-americans, who on average are shorter to make the team. let me say this instead, because i think this is a slam dunk legal argument. if the regulations mean the obama administration said what they mean, then they are beyond the scope and hence null and void. the agency would not have the
power to vastly expand statutes to declare you can't marry your second or third cousin either or anybody who grew up on the same street as you. not only would that go beyond the way the statute allows, there is no rational argument that the regulation is aimed at ensuring the underlying statute enforcement. the kinds of things that would be permissible in that context would be a requirement that one present one's birth certificate when they get married. regulations that are passed pursuant to a statute can sometimes go beyond what the statute requires, but they have to be aimed at enforcing the statute. they can't just be a sneaky way to expand it. the proper analogy is that a case that concerns how far
congress can go in enforcing the 14th amendment's equal protection clause. the supreme court had already held that title vi is basically a clone of the equal protection clause, and the case is a near-perfect fit for us. the court held that congress can pass a statute that goes somewhat beyond the equal protection clause. but there has to be an honest enforcement effort, not just an expansion of liability. any congressional enactment needs to be congruent and proportional to genuine difficulty enforcing actual cause. there is no way the 1966 regulations, assuming they really are authorizing all-purpose disparate and impact liability, would be upheld as congruent and proportional to title vi violations. it's not close. it is a massive overreach.
even if somewhere, somehow, there are federal funding recipients discriminating, fixing it by a massive response like a disparate and all-purpose disparate impact regulation would be overkill. i think i had better stop there. bear in mind that i have just essentially summarized a very, very long law review article for you. if you really want to know what my co-author and i have to say, you are going to need to read the whole article. thank you, ladies and gentlemen. [ applause ] >> could you pull up the powerpoint? >> great. thanks so much, lindsay. i have spent the last year researching the scope and effect
of the dear colleague letter on school discipline. i want to share what i have learned. first, this was not guidance. these were orders. ostensibly, there was a three-part disparate impact test. one, is there a disparity? two, is it necessary for a legitimate goal? three, is there an effective alternative? maybe not unreasonable, but not what they actually did. suspensions don't work, and there are effective alternatives available. if we know the answer to the second and third question, then there is only one actual question -- is there a disparity? if there is, you might face a federal investigation. if it is about the numbers, what you better do is get the numbers down. the most effective way to get the numbers down is by holding students to lower standards. because if you don't, you will face an investigation.
these investigations used to be noble and diligent efforts to find discriminatory treatments. after the guidance, they became thin pretexts for prosecutions intended to force school districts to adopt lower standards. take oklahoma city, for example. the allegations were false. both students were suspended same way for the same thing. investigators found the white student was actually hispanic. but that didn't really matter. after two years, they did not get around to asking teachers whether the discipline policies were justified. theoretically, the second part of the test that rarely happens. they forced a policy change, even as teachers are crying out about the chaos it was causing. we'll circle back to that later. for now, we could take rochester, minnesota. there were no allegations of discriminatory treatments. no particular policies were scrutinized.
after five years, the district e-mailed them, the fact of this matter has dragged on for five years, requiring expenditure of enormous resources on the part of the district without any evidence of wrongdoing is unconscionable. the investigation closed in september 2015. three weeks later, a new one opened. rochester, minnesota, has been under investigation for the past eight years. it's not clear if they found anything in the last three. i will let you know when they close it. two months ago, ocr was forced to adopt lower standards for student behavior. the superintendent said she had no choice in the matter. the school board did not even know that there was an investigation that had been going on for 3 1/2 years. total secret. we are not talking about the public and the teachers not knowing, we are talking about the school board not knowing. so much for local control. these investigations hit
hundreds of school districts serving millions of students. the scope of it is breathtaking. i am happy to tell anybody whether or not your district has been under investigation. new york has been for seven years, seattle for seven years, fresno for four years, millions and millions of students are in districts where teachers have been forced by the federal government to hold them to lower behavioral standards. so, what are the results of this? we know terrifyingly little. after schools were forced to lower suspensions, lazy reporters take stats as a sign that schools are getting safer. it could be true. it could be schools are getting less safe. it could be that the numbers are just fake. in washington, d.c., they saw a 40% drop in suspensions. it turns out, principals kept suspending, they just stopped telling district about it. it was fake news. state data can become pretty dubious.
in miami, after they banned suspensions, they also stopped reporting thousands of fights to the state of florida. crime data also can become dubious. sheriff israel can boast that arrests are down in broward county. that tends to happen when you stop arresting. that does not mean that schools are safer. there aren't many academic studies, student and teacher surveys. i have repeatedly asked advocates of these policies to direct me towards any evidence that isn't bad because there is so little. i will run you through everything i have found in the last year. chicago, very mild reform. they lowered the length of suspensions and declassified some things from suspensions to in-school suspensions. better attendance, no economic effects. more crime and disorder according to teachers and worse peer relationships according to students. so, a mix of good and bad.
philadelphia, a ban on suspensions for willful defiance and nonviolent behavior and severe disrespect cannot be punished for them anymore. for the effects, not every school complied, but across the board, pretty serious drop in academic achievement. about 5% net with some fluctuation year to year, but troubling. truancy, you cannot do the same controls, but has been dropping your after year, and then started writing right after by 16% to about 42% total. why? it may be kids were staying home from school because there were more scared. maybe there were more scared because they were more serious incidents. this gets to the truly perverse part of this policy. african-american students ended up spending more time out of school on suspensions after the
suspension bans. why? because of the rise in serious incidents. maybe when schools are not allowed to enforce basic norms, serious problems increase. in los angeles, academic growth tanked. compared to other california schools that didn't deal with the ban, l.a. schools lost 1/5 of a year of learning. schools that suspended fewer than ten times, took a hit. schools that had more than ten suspensions and willful defiance lost 1/3 worth of a year of learning. we have some school level service where students are asked the same question from one year to the next, and you can see how the answers change and are they feeling more or fewer feeling safe? in new york city, the bar graphs represent all middle and high
schools in new york city and changes in student answers to various questions on drugs, fights, respect, gangs. the gray zone are schools that the answers did not really change. the orange zones are schools were 5% to 50% fewer students gave a nice answer. the red is where 15% fewer students gave an answer. on the left, and that was deblasio's and bloomberg's effort on the left. you were told you are not allowed to suspend the first time a student does a low-level offense. things are stable. on the right we have the reform which said to teachers, after the third time, you need to provide extensive documentation to your principal, who will take the documentation and write an application to the central office which is disinclined to accept the application before we will approve a suspension for a nonviolent offense. according to students, more
schools saw fights, disrespect, drugs, gang activity. the rules changed and the students knew it. students serving the highest shares of minority students were hit hardest. 60% saw respect deteriorate. it is not just an urban problem. in reno and surroundings, we see the same thing. in a two-year period before the reform, things were stable. after the reform, it is all worse. fewer kids at 60% to 80% of schools were respecting the rules, each other, respecting teachers, feeling safe. we don't have these questions from before the reform. only from 2015 to 2017. we can see that fewer kids are reporting an ability to deal with frustration and understand their emotions, even to tell right from wrong. here's the crazy thing. i only found out about the discipline reform after digging into an article about the great success they were having with their social and emotional
learning initiative. seattle, 2015 to 2017, is the same thing. very bad. kids say teachers aren't protecting them from bullies. teachers say -- kids say teachers are not even spotting bullies. teachers don't feel respected. they don't feel safe. when i talked to advocates, they point to seattle as a place that's getting this right. that is it for student surveys. mostly, they don't exist. sometimes they exist and won't share data with me. sometimes as soon as things go south, they change questions or the answers. sometimes, when the reforms start, they stop publishing or asking them. that is the case in charlotte, new haven, portland, broward county. we do have surveys that are commissioned by teacher's unions.
at the national level, teacher's unions are against traditional discipline. the nea declared it to be a product of institutional racism, which is kind of a funny thing to say given that they are the institution. but at the local level, unions are less interested in leftist ideology and more interested in protecting teachers. they cannot do that when the feds are in town. the least they can ask teachers, what is going on? teachers are not feeling safe. these are not good answers. we do not want our teachers not feeling safe. teachers don't think the new approach works. 13% in charleston, 13% in denver. 13% in madison. these are incredibly awful approval ratings. you do not want your school to be forced to do something that
10% of teachers thinks works. remember, the department of education, today, thinks the teachers are wrong. they think suspensions do not work and that restorative justice does. social justice activists think teachers are not only wrong, but racist. to them, only institutional racism can explain why teachers believe traditional discipline works and why they don't believe the new approach keeps kids safe. they have silenced teachers. teachers are afraid of being called racist if they speak out for the safety of their students. to my knowledge, only three districts under investigation have given teachers the opportunity to speak anonymously on what is going on. i will read you their words to give them a voice and leave you with a question after every city. oklahoma city, we were told referrals would not require suspension unless there was blood. we had more fights in the first
nine weeks than we had in the last five years. i would like to see a consequence for bad behavior of some kind, such as when a male student took his penis out and showed it to a female student and admitted he did so, and nothing was done. the school environment is unsafe. teachers are afraid. students have little to no consequences for behavior. please help us. these comments were public during the investigation. ocr admitted they do not talk to teachers. did they not notice or did they not care? buffalo -- never seen anything like it, the behavior is unreal. students are threatening teachers with violence and in many cases physically attacking teachers. no consequences for anything and we are not allowed to write up students electronically.
i was told by an admin in '91 that he rips up write-ups. 81% of teachers in buffalo say their administrators underreport behavioral problems. it is the only district to knowledge that put this question to teachers. why should we think buffalo is unique? finally, fresno. i had a student punch another in the face. the perpetrator was sent back to class without a suspension. when a special education student is violent, the district makes excuses for the behavior. and, a student said he would shoot and kill me. three students heard the threat as shoot and kill. the administration believed the perpetrator, who claimed he was going to prank me with a slingshot. administration said that because he did not specifically use the word gun, it was not as serious a threat as i thought. final question, why today, one year into the trump
administration, do we still have an obama policy that forces districts to abandon traditional discipline? a policy that encourages administrators to systematically suppress records of disturbing and violent behavior, a policy that encourages adults charged with the care of our nation's children to willfully ignore clear threats to shoot and kill. [ applause ] >> good afternoon. here is a project i would love to see a researcher undertake with a small army of graduate students. going to various schools with a stopwatch or a chess clock and record the amount of time the
students spend on-task. i would bet real money that a significant portion of the achievement gap is actually a time on task gap. much of that gap is caused by disruptive classroom behavior. there is some suggestive empirical evidence for this. about ten years ago, the american federation of teachers found 17% of teachers say they lost four or more hours of instructional time per week to disruptive behavior. another 19% said they lost two to three hours. that is nearly four out of ten teachers losing two to three hours of behavior per week. in urban schools, 21% said they lost four more hours per week. in urban secondary schools, it was 24%. every student i ever taught has been in an urban setting.
i taught fifth grade for several years in a south bronx elementary school that was the lowest performing school in new york city's lowest performing school district. the data i just alluded to aligns perfectly with my own experience. in my post-classroom life, most of my interests are in curriculum and instruction. i would argue getting the school's climate and culture right matters more than getting its curriculum or pedagogy right. you could have nobel prize winners in every class delivering best in class curriculum, but my gut tells me it will not make much difference if students are hemorrhaging their learning time to disruptive behavior, feeling physically unsafe. a bit of a war story. my first year in the classroom
coincided with joel klein's first year as new york city school chancellor. if you were the principal of a school like mine, as i understood it, there were two ways a principal could shine. the first would be to raise test scores, the second was to have a low suspension rate, which ostensibly indicated you are running a tight ship. our scores were abysmal. the year i started, 16% of students were reading or above grade level. it's easy to reduce suspensions, just don't suspend kids. everything i knew about that policy was filtered to me through my administration. reportedly, klein said i do not care about suspensions, i just want to see higher test scores. so we started suspending kids. climate improved, scores climbed appreciably. the next year, a new principal
evaluation system was put in place that once again validated low suspension rates. my principal started the next year saying we are going to tighten up on discipline this year. i remember thinking, we just did that. we just tightened up discipline, that is why things are improving. you can predict what happened. the only significant contribution i can make to this discussion as a nonlawyer, nongovernment person is to remind people how well intended policy initiatives land in the classroom. i always likened it to a game of telephone where a finely calibrated policy becomes a blunt instrument at the school level. when i started teaching it was the height of bulletin board mania. the idea had taken root that in
education, bulletin boards were the best window into the quality of instruction in a classroom. that is what they wanted to see. i learned to repeat that phrase all the time. that's what they wanted to see. the quality of instruction, as best as i could tell, did not change much, but, boy, did the quality of bulletin boards skyrocket. teachers started planning units specifically to produce bulletin board work because it is what they wanted to see. this potemkin village impulse to get the appearance of effectiveness while remaining ineffective can take on cartoonish dimensions. one time, an assistant principal came to me and said, why don't you have pattern blocks on the student desks that you use for math?
interlocking cubes they use for math. my answer was that i am teaching ela right now. she told me it did not matter. they need to be there at all times. even when i am not teaching math? yes, was the answer. because it is what they want to see. if they want to see lower suspension rates, i promise you, they will get them. what they will not see is improved school climate, better student outcomes. classrooms were students feel safe, respected. able to learn. in a few years, we will be back in this room talking about the crisis on school safety. the concern about this, as max has documented, it is likely to have consequences, it is already having consequences that are not intended. but are quite foreseeable.
and, as ever, they will damage the outcomes of students who can afford it the least. there are good reasons to be concerned about exclusionary discipline, but there are equally good reasons to be concerned about the concern, and the signals it sends to teachers and students. i have been on panels like this where we wring our hands about civic education and how to get students to be more civically engaged. schools are not just places students come to be civically engaged, it is where they come to be engaged by others. so, with students that are engaged, but we give them schools were they feel unsafe. there is no meaningful consequence. when that is the engagement we inflict upon them, we are saying something to them about their values, about the value of
coming to school, following the rules, et cetera. that brings me to my final point. all of this runs the risk of schools imposing a value system on families that families might not support. i am uncomfortable as a teacher and a parent with the idea there is a right way to discipline any more than there is the right way to parent your children. and that any variation from said right way needs to justify itself. if local control means anything, it should mean responsiveness to community norms about how our children conduct themselves, what the school stands for and what they will not stand for. that cannot be managed from washington, d.c. [ applause ] >> good afternoon. i guess i am going to bring it
to the personal point. i am going to talk about parents. i run a program in little rock, arkansas, that serves children. in the midst of running this program, i've grown to know the kids. one came in to my office a few months ago at 3:00 and i said, why are you not in school? what you home early for? she clearly had not gone to school that day. she said, i'm not going to school today or tomorrow. i said, why? she said, i had a fight at school and they did not do anything. i know if i go back to school today or tomorrow, the girl is going to want to fight me again. she might be over it by next week, but today and tomorrow she is going to fight me again. so i'm not going to school. then she sat down and explained to me that kids at her school
did not feel safe because the kids that were creating a lot of the discipline problems in school were just getting a slap on the hand. they were dealing with what -- they had no consequences to their actions. this little girl was probably a little tiny thing, 90 pounds, and she has been continually bullied all year long. my advice has always been talk to your counselor, talk to your parent, talk to your teacher. she made it clear to me that that was not doing any good. that, because her school does not want to suspend the students, they are trying to keep the suspension rate down. i am hearing this from the panel up here. and i am learning that these things are happening in the real world. these children are going to school and they are feeling unsafe. there was another girl in this group, the one thing i like
about this group of 50 or 60 kids is they are all types. one little girl bites all the time. i said, why are you fighting all the time? she said, because i can. people bother me, so i hit them. that kind of attitude. another case, she knows she is not going to get suspended. she knows they will fuss at her, and probably send her to an in-house class or something. there is no threat. she does not feel any threat. she can go around smacking people all day long. they tried that at church, but there were consequences to them hitting people at church. we made that very clear. we brought parents in.
one of the parents, the parents of the first little girl i was discussing, her mother is terrified to send her child to school. she agreed with her staying home from school and not going in for a couple of days and hoping this little girl next week will be over it. i think maybe not, i think she is going to be continually terrorized for the rest of the school year. those are the kinds of things that we are seeing in our schools in arkansas. we probably have low suspension rates. i would imagine so. but with this group of children that i'm serving in this community, i am seeing terrible things. not going to school. they brought in report cards last week, i never saw so many "f"s in my entire life. i said, why are you getting "f"s? they said, nobody cares about us.
nobody pays attention to us. especially the african-american kids and hispanic kids which my church serves, those kids are not getting served, academically, they are not getting protected. we feed them every day. they are not getting the kinds of things they need. when we were growing up, going to school, you knew you were going to be safe. you knew the teachers were going to take care of you, administrators were going to take care of you. you knew that was something that was going to happen. when my children were in school, i never worried about them. i knew they were safe in the school. later on, i thought something different with my younger kids. now it has gotten so terrible that kids are not going to school. what about the truancy rate? we're not suspending.
kids are not going to school, now they are truant. we are having a decrease in the number of kids going to school thanks to policies that create these environments where teachers are afraid to do anything. my sister just retired and she retired for many of these reasons. you cannot touch the kids. she would see kids running up and down the street, cussing each other out, and nobody ever did anything. and she's an old-school teacher. it drove her crazy. she would come home every day and say two little girls had a fight in school with knives. they send them both to class. with knives. those kind of things are changing the environment of the school. for kids that need to feel safe, kids that really want to learn, we are seeing higher dropout rates. we see kids staying home.
there is a battleground for children instead of a safe haven for children. we have seen it since the obama administration policy, teachers are too scared to do anything. say anything. my parents were teachers, my friends are teachers. i've heard the exact same thing from them. they are not safe because they cannot make decisions on how to discipline the kids. you know, the rules are the rules. you do with the principal says you can do. if that child, slap them on the wrist, send them back to class. let the security guard or police officer on campus talk to them. and that is not making any difference at all. they will listen and tomorrow they will do it again. at our church, we are providing the safe haven. more and more i'm seeing kids stay home and come over to the church. we send the back to the school because we do not want them to
be truant, we tried to get them to know what the process is. the process has changed. now you have a conference with the principal and the teacher, and the teacher slaps the other student on the hand. sends them back to class. and the conference is over. parents do not want to go through that. they tell me, i am not going up there. they did nothing the last time my child got beat up. they are not going to do anything this time. i'm not going to take off from my job and spend half the day at the school for somebody to tell tell me, these kids will work it out. i'm going to send george over here and johnny back to class and they will be fine. we talked to them. we had this conference, it's going to stick in their brain. and it does not. the saddest part is kids understand they cannot do
nothing to them. when my son was young, he did something really bad. i said, what did you learn? he said, i'm going to call grandma and tell on them. but nobody does anything to them. he knows grandma told me not to do nothing, i would not. that is what they're feeling in school. these guys are coming to the church and talking to me and saying, i can do anything i want to. then i say, no you can't. then they continue to do that. i am assuming it is happening in most of the schools in little rock because most of the schools in little rock are predominantly black and hispanic. i am seeing too much and hearing too much. we have a terrible crime rate. max talked about the crime rate. these kids, i was telling somebody today, they put a report out on african-american
boys who have been killed since january. 40 african-american boys under 24 have been killed in little rock, all dropouts. dropouts. so what's happening that's causing this to happen in little rock? i can certainly speak for my city because i came from d.c. where i thought it was pretty rough here. and then i go to my hometown, i spent 30 years in d.c., and i thought, okay, this is bad. let me go home and then i get home and it's worse. you know, it's absolutely worse. and it terrifies me. we have some incredible legislators that are trying to make a difference. but what i'm seeing is it kids just are running the show, and teachers don't feel safe enough to say anything. they don't feel like they can, according to the policies, say anything. so they just letting things kind
of go the way they go. so that is kind of the on the ground perspective. that's what i see. and i think this policy has just made it awful for the classroom teachers, you know, and for principals. you know, i mean, i'm a big supporter of classroom teachers and principals. and as you know i'm a school choice advocate. but i think teachers are amazing. and all of them, living in fear, and not being able to discipline their own classes is just horrible. it just makes a statement that we're not headed in the direction we think we are with education. if we don't figure out a way to solve this kind of problem, discipline is just going to get worse in the schools. and then we'll see, in a few years, we will be back talking about more safety, and more crime in schools.
>> thanks to each of you for your remarks. we've got a couple of minutes to take a couple of questions. if you've got a question, just raise your right hand and somebody will come around with a mic. yes, sir. do you have a mic? they're recording. hold on. >> i guess to robert's point about the conflicting tradeoffs between both exclusionary and overconcern about exclusionary discipline really spoke to me. and i guess, i wonder what the panel thinks about the fact that at the federal level we are sort of promoting both of those sort of absurds of either end at the same time, both with this guidance, and also with the fact that we, you know, continually subsidize the hiring of school resource officers. we have both at the federal and
state level, all these zero tolerance laws in place that remove the discretion of principals at the school level to build these school cultures by having more discretion about what to do about infractions and everything. and so i guess i suppose i'm curious what the panel thinks about what we should do federally to maybe try and not be taking any stance on discipline at all. >> thank you. >> how about federally not taking any stance on discipline at all? >> i lot of this guidance stemmed from a discomfort of the excesses of zero tolerance. i'm sympathetic to those. with zero tolerance said to teachers is, don't use your judgment. if a student does this, you have to do that. and then the fix to that was to tell teachers, don't use your judgment. if a student does this, you can't do that. it's two sides of the same coin. it is fundamentally about
distrusting teachers to exercise their judgment. so if we don't want school resource officers, if we don't want the cops to have to handle this in school, and i don't, we have to liet the teachers make the decisions within the classrooms that they know how to make. >> can i make a plug here? i have never taught at the elementary middle school or high school level. i teach law students, and law students are pretty well behaved, most of the time. but i miss staying after school as a nice punishment that is much more effective than telling a student who is disruptive that they get to go home because they've been suspended and arrest is often an utterly over the top for what we're talking about. sometimes it's not, but nonetheless we have overused arresting little kids accused of
sexual harassment. back in the 1970s, there was litigation that ended up making it very difficult for schools to have students stay after school, which is actually unpleasant, and therefore makes, you know, students who might be disruptive otherwise don't want to do that and they have an incentive, therefore, not to be disruptive. and maybe that was a wrong turn back in the 1970s that has made some of these other wrong turns possible. >> yes, sir. >> tom spore with heritage, i'm curious as a newcomer to this area, has there been any discussion about the administration, why hasn't there been discussion about rescinding this "dear colleague" memo? thank you. >> max? >> i think they're scared. i think that the narrative on this can be very clear and overwhelming.
either you are for this guidance, or you somehow support systematic racism or you are for the school to prison pipeline. if you watched the interview with secatory devos she was asked a couple questions with frames i would have challenged the premise of, she could not answer them adequately. don't you think that this is institutional racism? and when i look at this, i kind of see institutional racism, but a different kind. i see dramatic disparities in suspensions that are profoundly troubling, that secretary of education arnie duncan blamed teachers for. the teachers aren't responsible. they are baked into the americans because of slavery and awful policies.
when i see the department of education telling school districts across the country, you have to hold african-american students to lower standards, i see institutional racism there. but it's a hard case to articulate. i think they've been intimidated the same way teachers have been. >> great. any other thoughts from the panel on that? we've got time for one more. yes, sir. >> thanks. thank you so much for your presentations. you high lighted some of the largest urban districts. i was wondering if you think we have a handle on what's happening in the other 16,000 rural suburban small town communities in terms of school discipline, first of all? and then second of all there are a lot of states at the community level that long before the 2014 federal guidance limited exclusionary discipline in places like california and colorado. and i guess my question is, do you feel more comfortable with local communities making those decisions outside of federal
action? thank you. >> max, you can probably speak to the districts. but yeah, sure, of course. who -- i mean you have to be consistent on this. if i don't think it's okay for -- either you favor local control or not, school boards, teachers, administrators, they know the communities they're dealing with. the parent is not a distraction. here's a look at live events for tuesday. interior secretary ryan zinke testifies about the budget. 10:00 a.m. eastern on c-span. the house comes in at noon eastern working on legislation to improve health care. and financial deregulation bill. on c-span 3, the commanders of central command and africa command testify before the senate armed services committee about the president's 2019
budget request. then education secretary betsy devos on school safety and gun violence, talking at the national pta legislative conference. that's at 2:30 p.m. eastern. following her remarks we join a senate foreign relations committee hearing where former british prime minister david cameron testifies about global security. coming up tonight on c-span3, live next, "landmark cases" features the 1886 case of yick wo v. hopkins, arguing equal protections for immigrants and citizens. after that, a discussion on the relationship between the u.s., taiwan and japan. and later, a hearing on ending scams against the elderly, and senior citizens.
♪ >> all persons having business before the honorable, the supreme court of the united states, are admonished to draw near and give their attention. >> landmark cases, c-span's special history series, produced in partnership with the national constitution center. exploring the human stories, and constitutional dramas behind 12 historic supreme court decisions. mr. chief justice, and may it please the court -- >> quite often in many of our most famous decisions are ones that the court took that were quite unpopular.