Author: Max Eden

The Bitter Debate over School Discipline

Last month, Congresswoman Kathleen Clark (D-MA) called on Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos to resign because the Federal School Safety Commission’s report contained a citation to a study, the findings of which Clark did not like. The Congresswoman did not allege that the study was methodologically flawed. Rather, she simply called the study “racist” because it found that differences in behavior explained the racial disparity in school discipline. This could have been a teachable moment in the bitter national debate over school discipline. Unfortunately, rather than take this conflagration as an opportunity to review the research literature, journalists seemed more interested in reinforcing Clark’s accusation by innuendo, noting that the study’s author describes himself on Twitter as a “stoic, masculine, conservative.” But for America’s students, the truth matters a great deal more than partisan posturing. Policies predicated on falsehood rarely yield positive results. If Congresswoman Clark’s contention that the racial discipline gap is not a product of student behavior but rather of “institutional racism” then the Obama administration’s policy of pressuring school districts to decrease …