Education Secretary Betsy DeVos openly supports policy decisions that treat disciplinary bias against black students as if it were a myth. She’s even gone so far as to say protections for minority students have made schools more violent.
But a recently released report proves the racial bias is extremely real, in the midst of DeVos’ attempted whitewashing. Perhaps ironically, the department DeVos heads is the source of the report.
Looking at data from the 2015-2016 school year, the Department of Education found that while black students are 15 percent of the total population in American public schools, they make up 31 percent of the students who are arrested or referred to law enforcement.
By comparison, white students are 49 percent of the student population and are 36 percent of those arrested or referred to authorities.
The report also found disciplinary actions were more likely to take aim at black students.
The data comes out as DeVos has been pushing to rescind guidance from the Obama administration that sought to prevent black students from being punished more severely than their white counterparts. DeVos’ team has even taken to using the tragic shooting at Stoneman Douglas High as cover, going so far as to blame the Obama-era protections for making schools less safe.
Todd A. Cox, director of policy for the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, told The Hill the Trump team was “using that horrible tragedy to attack the guidance.”
In a hearing last month, Devos’ indifference to racism in schools was slammed by Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA), who had asked DeVos in June 2017 to address how school segregation might adversely affect minority students.
But instead of answering the congresswoman, DeVos’ office went silent. In the hearing, DeVos appeared to suggest she would answer when Democrats in Congress rubber-stamped more of Trump’s nominees.
Lee responded to DeVos’ attempt at evading responsibility, saying, “Madame Secretary, you just don’t care much civil rights of black and brown children.”
DeVos has already succeeded in rolling back rules put in place by the Obama administration that enshrined protections for victims of sexual assault. Going after racial protections now is in line with the Trump team’s disregard for racial and gender equality.
The initiative to roll back the Obama rule proves Lee’s accusation is accurate, and the evidence shows that harm is being done, and DeVos does not care at all.