Will Betsy DeVos Change Course on Racial Disparities in School Discipline?

Source: http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/rulesforengagement/2017/10/will_devos_change_course_on_racial_disparities_in_school_discipline.html?cmp=eml-enl-eu-news2&M=58237642&U=998282

Will the U.S. Department of Education back pedal on another key education civil rights action of the Obama administration?

As the agency reversed Obama-era civil rights policies—those related to issues like sexual assault, systemic investigations, and transgender students—policy watchers have wondered if it will next withdraw or alter 2014 guidance on racial disparities in school discipline.

That guidance, which was long anticipated by civil rights groups before it was released, put schools on notice that discipline rates that are disproportionately high for students in one race could trigger a civil rights investigation, even if the school’s policies weren’t written with discriminatory intent. For example, if a school suspends black students at higher rates than their peers, federal officials might explore data to see if they are facing harsher punishments for the same rule violations compared to their peers.

Supporters of that move said it would help to slow the so-called “school-to-prison pipeline,” a term they use to describe overly punitive discipline policies that research links to negative outcomes for students.

But critics said the guidance amounted to putting “racial quotas” on school discipline and that it had a chilling effect, causing schools to avoid disciplining students for some behaviors.

U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos has regularly criticized the Obama administration’s aggressive approach to civil rights enforcement, referring to it as “the era of rule by letter.”

Now, DeVos plans to hire an outspoken critic of the discipline guidance to work in the the department’s office of general counsel, according to a Politico report. That reported hire, Hans Bader, previously served as a senior attorney for the Competitive Enterprise Insitute. He’s written numerous opinion pieces and letters to the editor at major newspapers on the Obama education department’s approach to discipline.

Higher suspension rates for black students “reflect higher rates of misbehavior among blacks, not zero-tolerance policies,” Bader wrote in a 2014 opinion piece in the Daily Caller.

That’s a claim that many school discipline researchers dispute.

Is Bader’s hiring a signal that the discipline guidance will be changed? Michael Petrilli, president of the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, seems to think so.

Public School Review Diversity Report: Which States Have the Most Diverse Public Schools?

Which states have the most diverse public schools? We analyze our data to find how much diversity truly exists on public school campuses. Learn about the varying levels of school diversity in regions around the nation, as well as the benefits derived from ethnic diversity in schools.
American public schools have made tremendous progress since the Supreme Court declared school segregationunconstitutional in Brown v. Board of Education. Schools throughout the nation are more diverse than ever before as a result of desegregation, immigration of people to this country, and emigration of citizens from one region of the nation to another. Sixty years after the Supreme Court’s decision, schools in Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia and other southern states where segregation was once so prominent have shown great gains in diversity.
But which states have the most diverse public school campuses? We collected data and analyzed the numbers to develop an original list illustrating how much diversity truly exists in each state’s public schools.
Diversity Scores of Public Schools
To equally compare the diversity of public schools in our country, we mined student population data and calculated diversity scores at the school, town, county and state levels.

Why a lack of empathy is the root of all evil.

Lucy Adeniji – an evangelical Christian and author of two books on childcare – trafficked two girls and a 21-year-old woman from Nigeria to work as slaves in her east London home. She made them toil for 21 hours a day and tortured them if they displeased her. The youngest girl was 11 years old.

Sentencing her to 11-and-a-half years in prison last month, Judge Simon Oliver said: “You are an evil woman. I have no doubt you have ruined these two girls’ lives. They will suffer from the consequences of the behaviour you meted out to them for the rest of their lives.”

Most people would probably agree with Judge Oliver’s description of Adeniji as evil, but Simon Baron-Cohen, professor of developmental psychopathology at the University of Cambridge, would not be one of them. In his latest book, Zero Degrees of Empathy: A New Theory of Human Cruelty, Baron-Cohen, argues that the term evil is unscientific and unhelpful. “Sometimes the term evil is used as a way to stop an inquiry,” Baron-Cohen tells me. “‘This person did it because they’re evil’ – as if that were an explanation.”

Human cruelty has fascinated and puzzled Baron-Cohen since childhood. When he was seven years old, his father told him the Nazis had turned Jews into lampshades and soap. He also recounted the story of a woman he met who had her hands severed by Nazi doctors and sewn on opposite arms so the thumbs faced outwards. These images stuck in Simon’s mind. He couldn’t understand how one human could treat another with such cruelty. The explanation that the Nazis were simply evil didn’t satisfy him. For Baron-Cohen, science provides a more satisfactory explanation for evil and that explanation is empathy – or rather, lack of empathy.

“Empathy is our ability to identify what someone else is thinking or feeling, and to respond to their thoughts and feelings with an appropriate emotion,” writes Baron-Cohen. People who lack empathy see others as mere objects.

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Rita Pierson: Every kid needs a champion

Published on May 3, 2013

Rita Pierson, a teacher for 40 years, once heard a colleague say, “They don’t pay me to like the kids.” Her response: “Kids don’t learn from people they don’t like.'” A rousing call to educators to believe in their students and actually connect with them on a real, human, personal level.