News & Politics

Heather Mac Donald Blasts 'Ludicrous' Obama-Era School Discipline Policy that Turned Schools into War Zones

The Trump administration is reportedly planning to scrap a controversial Obama-era education regulation that penalized schools for having disparate rates of discipline and turned school districts across the country into war zones.

The U.S. Departments of Education and Justice issued the federal directive jointly in 2014, warning public school districts receiving federal funding that they “could face investigation and funding cuts if they fail to reduce statistical ‘disparities’ in discipline by race,” the New York Post reported.

After Mayor de Blasio adopted the more lenient school discipline standards in early 2015, “more schools saw fighting, disrespect, drugs, gang activity,” said Max Eden, an education policy expert and senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute.

While NYC school suspensions are down, crime has spiked in the city’s public schools, including major crimes such as robbery and arson, new NYPD data show. The current academic year has seen the first school murder in more than 20 years — a stabbing at a Bronx high school — and the first time a gun was fired inside a school in more than 15 years. What’s more, new state Education Department data reveal there were more rapes and other sex crimes at NYC public schools during the 2017-2018 school year than any year since 2007.

The Obama-era school discipline policy received fresh scrutiny in the wake of the Parkland school shooting when critics said it prevented police from using available tools that could have stopped it.

The Manhattan Institute’s Heather Mac Donald told Fox News’ Tucker Carlson Friday night that the policy was built “on the theory that the only possible reason why black students may be suspended at higher rates than white students is teacher bias.”

Mac Donald explained that schools were warned by the Obama administration that they would lose federal funding and be taken to court unless they got their suspension and expulsion rates down.

As a result, “schools simply stopped imposing completely legitimate consequences for very serious forms of school disorder,” she said.

“The premise underlying this Obama policy was completely false,” she continued. “It assumes without even trying to prove that there can be no behavioral disparities between black and white students.”

Mac Donald explained that there is a reason why black students are suspended at three times the rate of their white peers.

“If you look at crime rates, if you look at the fact that black males between the ages of fourteen and seventeen commit homicide at ten times the rate of white and Hispanic male teens combined, it’s not surprising that in the classroom, the same lack of socialization that leads to those wildly disproportionate rates of violent crime is also affecting student behavior,” she said. “We should be concerned about that behavior, try to get at its root causes and not blame teachers for the completely phantom, specious idea that they’re racists.”

Carlson wondered why more teachers weren’t pushing back against a policy that is not rooted in fact or science, but in (left-wing) ideology.

Mac Donald responded that teachers in some areas around the country have, but by and large teachers have been “marinating” in “white privilege theory,” which she noted made the idea that they are racists “ludicrous.”

“There’s no more liberal group of professionals in the country than teachers,” she pointed out. “They want to — in a sense — believe in their own white privilege, and yet they will not speak out against the consequences against this.”

Mac Donald argued that teachers across the country are being assaulted by out of control students. “In Buffalo, New York, a teacher was kicked in his head by a students who said, ‘we can’t be suspended,'” she noted.

In January, the Buffalo Teachers Federation (BTF) released the results of a survey showing that the vast majority of Buffalo Public Schools (BPS) teachers who responded to the survey disapproved with how disruptive behavior was handled in their particular schools.

Only 8.6 percent of teachers think “disruptive student behavior” is handled appropriately. Nearly one-third of teachers, 31.1 percent, believe student behavior is either out of control or almost out of control.

This is a direct result of the Obama administration’s left-wing policies, which signaled to students that there would be no consequences for bad behavior.

“Students know what the new rules are and they’re taking advantage of it,” Mac Donald said.

Carlson called the situation “horrifying” and “prima facie crazy” and asked Mac Donald whether anyone ever complained about it before now.

She answered that there are some brave individuals who have spoken out, including “a very brave black teacher in St. Paul,” who opposed the radical, left-wing school policies.

“He said, ‘I am not helping my black students by winking at their school violence,'” Mac Donald said. “He basically had to leave his school for speaking truth to power.”