School administrators violating civil rights of children – Fed to step in

Certainly not the ultimate nanny-state policy, but at least the federal government is not suggesting regulation of parents at home … yet. School administrators who violate the civil rights of kids on the other hand, they are fair game if they want federal funding.

When you request and receive federal funding for what should be local spending efforts, there are strings attached. To put it bluntly, they own you. With the most recent federal government cash dump into selected states from the Obama administrations $4.35 billion Race to the Top program, one stick will ensure federal government bureaucrats have direct access to investigate civil rights allegations in elementary schools, high schools and universities who get the funding.

From Neil King Jr. at the Wall Street Journal.

The Obama administration plans to crack down on civil-rights infractions in school districts and university systems, including alleged disparities in the disciplining of white and black students.

The campaign will essentially put an enforcement stick behind the carrot of the administration’s $4.35 billion Race to the Top program, which holds out the promise of extra federal funding if states revamp their education policies. While Race to the Top will reward school reforms, the civil-rights push will emphasize the potential to punish offending schools.

States found to be violating laws designed to assure equal treatment in education could, in extreme cases, face litigation or a withholding of federal school funding, U.S. education officials said. They portrayed the move as an effort to make up for years of lax enforcement under the previous administration.

“We are back in business,” said Russlynn Ali, who heads the Education Department’s civil-rights bureau. “Across all of the statutes under our jurisdiction, we will vigorously enforce civil-rights laws.”

I’m wondering if the federal government will step in and stop the zero-tolerance crap that has been going on. I won’t hold my breath.

Paul Mirengoff over at Power Line blog notes the obvious. With this type of scrutiny, you can guaranty school officials will become even more lax about real discipline problems at school. It’s a hard pill to swallow, but when you’re talking about federal government civil rights violations, they are specifically targeting perceived punishment discrepancies of minorities only, not white kids. My emphasis in bold.

This means that the administration will identify and investigate situations in which a facially neutral discipline system — offense X brings punishment Y — results in blacks being discplined more often than whites. School systems will face the prospect of being punished unless they can explain the disparities, presumably based on a painstaking analysis of each disciplinary decision.

As Roger Clegg points out, the easy way out for schools — and what school bureaucrat won’t prefer the easy way out — is to make sure the numbers pass muster, i.e., to make discipline decisions based not solely on the merits, but also on the basis of race. And since administrators aren’t likely to mete out punishment just to balance the numbers, they will balance them by going easier on black students because they are black.

As a result, school discipline will be further eroded, making it increasinigly difficult for students of all races to learn.

Again for liberals, it always comes back to race. Why is that?

Maybe someone should take a look at the Obama administration’s Race to the Top program and figure out the “selection” process. That’s right, Obama and Congress magically wave their wand and $4.35 billion of funding becomes available. The states have to “apply” for the funding and someone, somewhere, makes decsions on who gets funding and who does not.

Try a Google News search and see how things are going.

Gee, I wonder how that federal game is played within the beltway? The game is certainly totally unconstitutional, but the Congress-critters certainly don’t give a crap.

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Steve McGough

Steve's a part-time conservative blogger. Steve grew up in Connecticut and has lived in Washington, D.C. and the Bahamas. He resides in Connecticut, where he’s comfortable six months of the year.


  1. gillie28 on March 9, 2010 at 4:32 am

    hmmmmm, hope this is a two-way street, and students who violate the "civil" rights (ie. are unbearably rude, threatening or weild weapons) of teachers, also have Federal Consequences – yeah, right.

  2. Dimsdale on March 9, 2010 at 4:51 am

    Ever notice how any Obama administration schemes are becoming more and more like bad remakes of the movei "Indecent Proposal"?

    The names change, but the story is the same…

  3. Anne-EH on March 9, 2010 at 11:11 am

    Just another PBO power grab.

  4. dom on March 9, 2010 at 4:54 pm

    lots of good stuff in here…

    "When you request and receive federal funding for what should be local spending efforts, there are strings attached. To put it bluntly, they own you"

    So incredibly true, and a good reason why private (mostly religious) schools should be wary of the voucher system they still seem to covet in some parts of the country.

    The strings attached to "Race to the Top" funding are much more than a revamping. Graduation requirements, curriculum, course offerings, are just a few of the things that would have to be changed drastically with the funding. The problem is so many states and towns are strapped for cash they are begging for the money and hoping to make the requirements work later. It may be to their incredible detriment to sign on to the program.

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