An Executive Order You Should Know About

Back in July 2012, the President signed an Executive Order which clears the path for your federal government to regulate discipline in our schools. If you are not disturbed by the long arm of the government reaching into our schools in this way, then maybe the rationale for this new regulation will get your attention.

The Order states, among other things, that high school graduation rates for African Americans are inferior to graduation rates of other students. The Order further states that African American students are disciplined at rates that are disproportionate to the discipline received by students at large, and it even alludes to disparate incarceration rates in the African American community.

In order to eradicate this ‘discriminatory’ climate in our schools, the President expects a 25 person commission in Washington, DC, meeting at least twice a year, to solve the problem of higher drop out rates among blacks. Please. This highly centralized, command and control effort will create countless unintended consequences that will surely negate whatever positive outcome, if any, which might result from this Executive Order.

On the surface, the Order mostly reads as a reasonable approach for improving educational opportunities of African Americans, but why does the Order only address the needs of black students when Hispanic students graduate at levels below African Americans (58% of Hispanic high students actually graduate versus 60% of African American students)? And does anyone think that the meager 76% graduation among White students is acceptable?

I get that any effort to improve educational opportunities for African Americans is a worthwhile endeavor. Who doesn’t? But as the Daily Caller reports, this endeavor is fraught with issues of fairness:

“What this means is that whites and Asians will get suspended for things that blacks don’t get suspended for,” because school officials will try to level punishments despite groups’ different infraction rates, predicted Hans Bader, a counsel at the Competitive Enterprise Institute. Bader is a former official in the Education Department’s Office for Civil Rights, and has sued and represented school districts and colleges in civil-rights cases.

“It is too bad that the president has chosen to set up a new bureaucracy with a focus on one particular racial group, to the exclusion of all others,” said Roger Clegg, the president of the Center for Equal Opportunity.

“A disproportionate share of crimes are committed by African Americans, and they are disproportionately likely to misbehave in school… [because] more than 7 out of 10 African Americans (72.5 percent) are born out of wedlock… versus fewer than 3 out of 10 whites,” he said in a statement to The Daily Caller. Although ” you won’t see it mentioned in the Executive Order… there is an obvious connection between these [marriage] numbers and how each group is doing educationally, economically, criminally,” he said.

To read the Executive Order in its entirety, click here.

To read the Daily Caller article in its entirety, click here.

To read a positive commentary of this Executive Order from the Huffington Post, click here.

I would rather see the federal government work in conjunction with a cross-section of state and local governments to address this problem. High school drop out rates are unacceptable across all races, and the only way to uncover the root causes of the problem and to identify a reasonable plan of action is to work with the people who are closest to the problem.

Peter Hancock

December 29, 2012

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