President Donald Trump has somehow made a connection between the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School tragedy last month and Barack Obama’s “Rethink School Discipline” policy, which directly impacts Black students across the country.
The President announced this week that Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos will lead a commission dedicated partly to repealing the Obama-era policy created to decrease the amount of minority students who are arrested on school property for minor offenses, according to the NY Times. The possible repeal has many civil rights groups speaking out in its defense. Trump has somehow connected this policy to school shootings even though the majority of mass school shooting offenders have been white.
Sherrilyn Ifill, the president and director-counsel at NAACP Legal Defense, has a theory on why Trump is going down this road.
“Yet again, the Donald Trump administration, faced with a domestic crisis, has responded by creating a commission to study an unrelated issue in order to ultimately advance a discriminatory and partisan goal,” said Ifill.
“School shootings are a grave and preventable problem but rescinding the school discipline guidance is not the answer,” she continued. “Repealing the guidance will not stop the next school shooter, but it will ensure that thousands more students of color are unnecessarily ushered into the school-to-prison pipeline.”
Florida Republican Senator Marco Rubio was reportedly the first to bring up the disciplinary guideline established in 2014 as a cause for concern.
“The overarching goals of the 2014 directive to mitigate the school-to-prison pipeline, reduce suspensions and expulsions, and to prevent racially biased discipline are laudable and should be explored,” wrote Rubio in a letter to DeVos and Attorney General Jeff Sessions. Rubio asserts that Nikolas Cruz, the culprit of the Valentine’s Day school shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, wouldn’t have been able to evade the law had there been harsher policies set prior for his disruptive actions.
Donald Trump and his education commission will issue guidance on legal limitations of punishments from the use of restraints and seclusion to corporal punishment and equity for special education students.
Black parents fear arming teachers
Last week the Florida Senate passed Bill 7026, The Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Act, which allows teachers to arm themselves in schools and in classrooms.
The bill also increases the legal age of gun purchase from 18 to 21.
But there is widespread concern about the implications and detrimental impact The Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Act could have on students of color, epecially Black boys.
Parents, Democratic lawmakers, and civil rights groups came out in strong opposition to the bill and claim their perspectives were largely ignored by lawmakers.
“My voice was never heard,” said Miami Democratic Rep. Roy Hardemon to CNN. “No one heard our cry.”
Given that there is statistical proof that students of color are disproportionately subject to punishment more than their white counterparts for the same offenses these representatives and parents of color have every reason to be concerned about The Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Act.
With this bill, someone who meets the specified criteria to carry firearms in school will be granted the ability to be armed on their school’s campus. Still, it will not be mandated that teachers and administrators carry firearms, as individuals must volunteer.
Some Black parents have already gone so far to say that they will consider pulling their children from school if their district implements The Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Act.
Lawmakers are also looking at assigning more law enforcement at every school site. “The safe-school officer requirement can be satisfied by appointing any combination of a school resource officer, a school safety officer, or a school guardian,” reads the bill.
Countless studies have shown that an increased presence of authority over Black children significantly correlate with “inexplainable” rises in numbers of detention, suspensions, and eventually arrests. The “inexplainable” factor, you can imagine, relates to systemic oppression and racism.