School discipline quotas in Tucson

by Walter Olson on November 12, 2009

Heather Mac Donald in City Journal:

As part of its plan to comply with a federal desegregation order now decades old, Tucson’s school district adopted racial quotas in school discipline this summer. Schools that suspend or expel Hispanic and black students at higher rates than white students will now get a visit from a district “Equity Team” and will be expected to remedy those disparities by reducing their minority discipline rates.

What? They can’t comply by collaring and disciplining a random selection of additional white students?

{ 6 comments }

1 Brian, follower of Deornoth 11.12.09 at 8:10 am

From your post, they could collar and discipline the white (and presumably Asian) students in this way provided they did so before the Equity Team arrived.

2 jkoerner 11.12.09 at 9:50 am

Suppose a repeat-offender student who has gotten past immunity because of his race severely hurts a student. It seems like the existence of this policy opens the school district up to liability, since they are purposely leaving dangerous individuals in the classroom.

3 Hans Bader 11.12.09 at 10:23 am

This is unconstitutional under the federal appeals court ruling in People Who Care v. Rockford Board of Education, 111 F.3d 528 (7th Cir. 1997).

As Chief Judge Posner observed in that case, racial quotas and racial goals in school discipline are illegal, even as a way of offsetting racial disparities:

“The [unconstitutional] decree forbids the school district to refer a higher percentage of minority students than of white students for discipline unless the district purges all “subjective” criteria from its disciplinary code. . . This provision cannot stand. . . Racial disciplinary quotas violate equity in its root sense. They entail either systematically overpunishing the innocent or systematically underpunishing the guilty. They place race at war with justice. They teach schoolchildren an unedifying lesson of racial entitlements.”

4 A.W. 11.12.09 at 10:27 am

well quotas are a bad idea, but you know when i was a kid, okay i got in a few fist fights in school. and being an all around equal opportunity kind of guy, sometimes that was with white guys and sometimes with black guys. okay, no women, so i am not that equal opportunity, i guess.

In my observation whenever i got in a fight with a white guy, we both got lunch detention at most. whenever a black dude was involved, it was in-school suspension (basically all day detention), or sometimes out of school suspension.

To this day i have always suspected that racial bias went into that.

5 David Schwartz 11.12.09 at 7:02 pm

The problem here is that there may be a very real problem of discrimination in school discipline, but this mechanism is very unlikely to detect it. It may well be that white school administrators consciously or subconsciously dole out harsher punishments to minority members who better fit their prejudiced notion of a hoodlum or troublemaker.

But the only way to detect that is to look at the punishment and the infraction. Simply breaking out the punishments by racial group won’t do it.

For example, one school could have a very large number of minority members who almost never get into any trouble and a lot of majority students who cause lots of problems. As a result, those minority students who get into trouble could receive much harsher punishments and this test would not detect it at all.

Methods that are based on an “equality of results” mentality will always have false positives and false negatives, dropping the effectiveness of the solution and working their own perverse injustices.

6 C Wren 11.13.09 at 9:58 pm

Many, many, many of the students in TUSD are illegal alien kids, and far too many of them belong to gangs. Drugs are everywhere. Political Correctness rules the district. What is really needed is effective border security. Fat chance of that happening.

Comments on this entry are closed.