The Obama administration’s heart may have been in the right place Wednesday in telling school administrators to use law enforcement action, suspensions and expulsions as a last resort in student discipline.
Figures cited by Education Department and Justice Department officials are alarming. Education Secretary Arne Duncan, focusing on what he said are trends in school discipline, wrote in a letter to school leaders:
But the department’s recommendations for how to fix these problems were lofty, full of air but short on practical how-to. The guiding principles:
Really? Build staffing? Don’t forget training. All it takes is money.
Catherine Lhamon, an assistant secretary of education, pointed out that information sent to schools included guidance on compliance with civil rights laws “and the legal approach the [federal government] will take when investigating complaints or compliance reviews alleging race or national origin discrimination in a school or district’s discipline practices.”
In other words, fix this or else.