By Anjali Verma ‘20
The Trump administration’s Department of Education, led by Secretary Betsy DeVos, has chosen to cancel a school discipline policy from the Obama administration that originally worked to limit racial bias in schools. The reason Obama implemented this policy was to decrease and hopefully rid schools of unfair racial prejudice, which became a priority to him when he found out that black students in the United States were three times more likely to be disciplined than their white classmates.
The 2014 policy’s intention was to limit racial bias when it came to suspensions and expulsions of students. If a school’s statistics exceeded the standards for discipline against certain races, then their federal funding could be cut or the school could face a federal investigation. Trump’s cancellation of this policy now means that federal officials will not intervene with the disciplinary actions of schools as long as they do not infringe with federal discrimination laws.
Supporters of Trump’s new policy are happy because they believe that Obama’s policy exceeded federal authority and in turn made schools unwilling to take action against students that may be disruptive or violent. Critics of Trump’s actions are arguing that by revoking the policy, there will be no oversight of schools that disproportionately suspend or expel minority students, thereby limiting their right to an education.