Up Next for Team Obama? Racial Quotas for School Discipline

Notice the passive language. Students repeatedly disciplined, suspended, or expelled were more likely to be held back or drop out than kids who were not. This is the classic language of victimization. Could it be possible that such students are held back or drop out because of their behavior, regardless of race?

Local control of education has traditionally made it possible to keep costs low and has allowed discipline to be swift, sure, and effective. Because educators act in loco parentis, they are allowed to impose the kinds of discipline on children that parents might impose without governmental interference. Discipline ranges from minor tasks and detentions imposed by a teacher to lengthier detentions imposed by a principal, in-school suspension, out-of-school suspension, and expulsion.

Suspensions might immediately escalate depending on the severity of the offense. Drug offenses, assaults, or other serious crimes are usually dealt with by means of an immediate suspension and a lengthy term in an out-of-school suspension facility. When a student is suspended for more than a few days, virtually every school has policies that invoke a form of due process review involving the student, parents, and their lawyer, if they wish, and of course due process protections apply when criminal charges are filed in the juvenile justice system or otherwise.

What this sort of system does is give a student the maximum chance to stop misbehaving and to perform well in school. By the time any student is actually removed from a school building for any length of time, he will have received multiple warnings, conferences with teachers, counselors, and principals, and multiple lesser forms of discipline. Introducing race into the mix will have a particularly harmful effect.

If a racial discipline quota system is established -- and this seems the certain goal of Mr. Obama and Mr. Holder -- schools will suddenly become accountable to the DOJ. If the black school population is 9% but black students commit 28% of all disciplinary infractions, educators will have bizarre and harmful choices to make, for they will have to ignore 17% of black discipline violators once their quota for the year is reached.