Winning praise from civil rights advocates, the U.S. Department of Education released new federal guidelines Wednesday aimed at stopping an explosion in student suspensions, expulsions and referrals to the criminal-justice system.
The ideas are a response to mounting concerns that overly punitive discipline is pushing too many low-income and minority students out of schools and toward failure rather than helping them engage academically. The Department of Education and the Department of Justice teamed up in a two-year effort to develop lists of resources and principles that educators have found effective at keeping campuses orderly without resorting to kicking out kids.
The package is intended to help schools chart new practices. Federal officials also emphasize that educators are obliged not to violate students' civil rights when punishing them. The package also provides resources for school police training and employee training in discipline techniques considered more productive than ejecting kids.
The Center for Public Integrity has reported on hot spots where high numbers of low-income Latino and black students have been subjected to lengthy expulsions from school for relatively minor infractions. Last year, the Center reported that expelled children of Latino farmworkers in California, for example, were dispatched to alternative schools so far from their homes — 20 miles, even 40 miles — that they dropped out or were told to only report to school only one day a week for a year.
The U.S. departments of Education and Justice both have civil rights offices that have stepped up investigations into complaints of disparate and harsh disciplinary practices affecting special-education students and ethnic-minority children. Complaints have included excessive suspensions of black children compared to white children accused of the same cell phone use violations.
“Everyone understands that school leaders need to have effective policies in place to make their campuses safe havens where learning can actually flourish,” said Secretary of Education Arne Duncan in an announcement Wednesday. “Yet most exclusionary and disciplinary actions are for non-violent student behaviors, many of which once meant a phone call home.”
In his own statement, U.S Attorney General Eric Holder said: “A routine school disciplinary infraction should land a student in the principal’s office, not in a police precinct.”
The Center has also investigated school police crackdowns on children, including roundups inside schools in California and Utah conducted by police accused of targeting only black and Latino students. Lawsuits filed by civil rights lawyers accused police of violating the rights of students who had committed no infractions and were wrongly accused of gang affiliations and forced to pose for mock mug shots inside schools.
In Los Angeles, a series of Center reports showed that the L.A. Unified School Police Department — the nation’s largest school police force — was ticketing more than 10,000 students a year until recently, mostly in low-income neighborhoods. Kids were often cited for arriving tardy or for disturbing the peace. Nearly half of those court citations went to children 14 or younger. Juvenile court judges urged reforms at schools they said were too quick to involve police rather than resolving conflicts at school and through counseling.
The Center interviewed the family of a Los Angeles boy, 12, who was arrested and charged with assault after teachers asked police to respond to a fight between the boy a friend. The boy had never been in trouble before. The school later apologized, but the boy’s record will remain in police files until he is 18. L.A. Unified police announced last November that they will no longer ticket kids 12 and younger, with some exceptions.
Over the last couple of years, the Department of Education has sounded an alarm over a sharp rise in out-of-school suspensions and expulsions nationally of students, especially minority kids, as revealed by the department’s Civil Rights Data Collection. Longitudinal research, including a major study in Texas, found that suspensions were linked to academic failure and higher risk of serious legal trouble rather than improving student behavior.
The release of the new federal discipline guidelines Wednesday was met with applause from advocates who have been lobbying local school districts and state legislatures to adopt limits on school discipline practices and the role of school police.
In California, Laura Faer, statewide education rights director of Public Counsel, a public interest law firm, praised the guidelines as “groundbreaking.” She said they will send a message to schools and state lawmakers to help students succeed by requiring the use of “positive school discipline practices.”
“Far too many students of color are suspended and expelled,” said Faer, whose group is helping the San Francisco Unified School District with new policies to address an alarming rate of suspensions of black students.
At the University of California at Los Angeles’ Civil Rights Project, whose data analysis has charted sharp racial disparities in suspensions, lead researcher Dan Losen said: “This guidance represents a huge boost to the efforts of advocates across the nation, and contributes to the growing understanding that dramatic racial disparities are found most often in minor offense categories that are not justifiable.”
A statement from the American Civil Liberties Union said the guidelines “provide provide important guiding principles” when it comes to school police and “their proper role with respect to discipline. This includes improved training and a clear delineation of roles so that officers are not responsible for handling minor discipline.”
Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, has become a supporter of more training for educators on how to handle troubled students without resorting to out-of-school suspensions. But her comment suggested that schools need funding to help them adopt alternative policies. “The federal government made many positive suggestions,” she reportedly said, “but policies in a vacuum without actual resources and support will not succeed."
Link to original article from The Center for Public Integrity
Washington, D.C.— Today, Congresswoman Barbara Lee released the following statement regarding the President’s inclusion of chained CPI in his 2014 budget proposal. The chained CPI is a cost index which helps to calculate the cost of living adjustments for benefit levels.
Washington, D.C.— Today, on the 10th anniversary of the Iraq War, Congresswoman Barbara Lee delivered the following statement on the House floor:
Washington, D.C.— During a day-long mark up of the Ryan bill, as a member of the Budget Committee, Congresswoman Lee offered an amendment to eliminate the Overseas and Contingency Operations (OCO) account in order to provide transparency and accountability to war spending and to bring it back into the base Pentagon budget.
Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA) is leading a small group of House Democrats in calling on President Barack Obama to release information regarding the Administration’s use of drone strikes.
Washington, D.C.— Today, Congresswoman Lee released the following statement regarding the FY2013 Continuing Resolution, Defense and Military Construction/VA Appropriations Bills:
“As a member of both the Appropriations and Budget Committee, I rise in strong opposition to this Continuing Resolution.
This week, all eyes are on Congress. Sequester is looming, and these indiscriminate cuts would not only hurt the poor first, but hurt them the most. Nearly 50 million of our neighbors — almost 16 million of them children — live in poverty; in the richest nation in the world, this is deplorable, unconscionable, but above all, solvable.
Washington, D.C.— In reaction to the passage of a bi-partisan reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act, Congresswoman Barbara Lee issued the following statement:
Washington, D.C.— Today, Congresswoman Barbara Lee joined Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer to launch the new Democratic Whip’s Task Force on Poverty and Opportunity.
Washington, D.C.— Today, Congresswoman Barbara Lee (D-CA) highlighted a new report by the House Committee on Appropriations detailing the impact of the sequester, the broad, across the board cuts that would go into effect on March 1st if Congress does not act.
Washington, D.C.—Today, Congresswoman Barbara Lee introduced H.R. 808, the “Department of Peacebuilding Act of 2013” to create a cabinet-level Secretary and Department of Peacebuilding. The term “peacebuilding” refers both to activities that target the root causes of violence as well as the broad measures used to prevent violent conflict and create sustainable peace.
Washington, D.C.—Today, Congresswoman Barbara Lee released the following statement in reaction to President Obama’s State of the Union Address to Congress:
Re "Obama agrees to release files on drone strike," Feb. 7
The recently leaked Justice Department memo that outlined the overly broad and vague legal boundaries used to justify drone strikes should shake the American people to the core.
Washington, D.C. — Congresswoman Barbara Lee (D-Oakland) issued the following statement in response to the United States Postal Service announcement that they plan on ending Saturday delivery:
Washington, D.C.—Today, Congresswoman Barbara Lee introduced the “Audit the Pentagon Act of 2013” for increased transparency and accountability in the defense budget.
Washington, D.C.—Today, Congresswoman Barbara Lee joined fellow members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus at a press conference marking the introduction of The Balancing Act, a bill to repeal the sequester and achieve balance in long-term deficit reduction between revenue and cuts.
Washington, D.C. – Congresswoman Barbara Lee (D-CA) issued the following statement regarding immigration reform:
Washington, DC – Today Congresswoman Barbara Lee (CA-13) released a statement recognizing the 40th anniversary of the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision.
“As we recognize the 40th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, we must remain vigilant in protecting a woman's right to access safe and legal reproductive and preventative health services.
Washington, D.C. – Congresswoman Barbara Lee (D-CA) issued the following statement in response to the President’s Plan to Protect our Children and our Communities by reducing Gun Violence.
As Afghan President Hamid Karzai returns to the United States this week, he will meet President Barack Obama at a time when the overwhelming majority of the American people and a strong bipartisan coalition of Congress believe it is long past time to bring the war to a safe and expedited close.
Introduces Key Legislation to Fight Poverty, Restore Equity and Promote Global Peace & National Security
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Congresswoman Barbara Lee reiterated her commitment to fighting poverty and creating opportunity, restoring income equity and promoting global peace and national security as she introduced a number of bills at the start of the 113th Congress.
After last night's Republican Plan "B" debacle and failure to find agreement within their own Caucus left them with no pathway forward, it is now time for all parties to unite around a new plan, a Plan "D" on the deficit deal.
Oakland, CA – Congresswoman Barbara Lee (D-CA) provided the following statement concerning decision by the U.S. Supreme Court to take up the issue of marriage equality.
Many of us in the Congressional Progressive Caucus recognize that no serious plan to address the deficit can go forward without defense spending reforms on the table. The bloated Pentagon budget has increased a staggering 95 percent dating back to 2000. We continue to spend billions upon billions of dollars on a nuclear arsenal and Cold War-era weapons system designed to fight a phantom Soviet army.
Bi-partisan letter to Obama: No military solution in Afghanistan, bring troops home
Washington, D.C. – Congresswoman Barbara Lee (D-CA) and Congressman Walter Jones (R-NC) were joined by over 90 Members of the House of Representatives in sending a bipartisan letter to President Obama, calling for an accelerated end to the war in Afghanistan.
Oakland, CA – Congresswoman Barbara Lee (D-CA) issued the following statement regarding the 2012 election results: "I want to thank the people of the 13th Congressional District for their resounding support in re-electing me to the United States Congress. It is such a tremendous honor to serve the most vibrant, forward-thinking and diverse constituency in the country.
Oakland, CA – Congresswoman Barbara Lee (D-CA) issued the following statement on the Presidential Debate:
Oakland, CA – Congresswoman Barbara Lee (D-Oakland) issued the following statement on the passing of Senator George McGovern:
"Today our country has lost one of its most committed advocates for the world's most the most vulnerable populations.
Oakland, CA – Barbara Lee issued the following statement on the Presidential Debate:
Oakland, CA – Barbara Lee issued the following statement on the Vice Presidential Debate:
Washington, D.C. – Today, Congresswoman Barbara Lee (D-CA) issued the following response to the killing of U.S. Ambassador to Libya Chris Stevens and three Embassy staff:
Washington, D.C. – Congresswoman Barbara Lee (CA-09) issued the following statement on the eleventh anniversary of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001:
“Today, we as a nation commemorate the eleventh anniversary of the terrorist attacks of September 11th, 2001. This anniversary is yet again a sobering moment for our country and a reminder that we must always remember those who perished in this appalling act of violence.
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congresswoman Barbara Lee (D-CA) released the following statement today after the Supreme Court ruled the Affordable Care Act constitutional:
I urge you to vote yes on three amendments made in order last night to H.R. 4310, the FY13 Defense Authorization Bill.These amendments will safely and responsibly bring our troops home from Afghanistan, keep Pentagon spending within the limits of the Budget Control Act, and ensure a meaningful diplomatic option with Iran is on the table.
Washington, D.C. – Congresswoman Barbara Lee has been named co-chair of the Congressional Sudan Caucus in the House of Representatives. Lee has been a long-standing leader within the Caucus, focusing her efforts on bringing the world’s attention to the genocide in Darfur.
“The tragedy surrounding the senseless shooting death of unarmed, 17 year-old Trayvon Martin has pricked the conscience of our nation.
Washington, DC - Representative Barbara Lee (D-CA) released the following statement today in reaction to the budget plan introduced by Chairman Paul Ryan and Republicans that would threaten Medicare and Medicaid and hurt our nation’s most vulnerable communities:
Lee Calls on Congress and the President to Invest in Job Creation, Decrease Wasteful Defense Spending
“Today the Pentagon previewed a plan to reduce military spending by $6 billion in the 2013 budget request. I am optimistic that current efforts to address runaway defense spending are headed in the right direction.
Washington, D.C.– Congresswoman Barbara Lee (D-CA) issued the following statement in response to the President’s State of the Union address:
Who doesn’t like a good comeback story?
That’s a question voters will answer come November in some of the most competitive House races in the country. For Democrats, who need to net 25 seats to seize back the majority, a handful of pickup opportunities rest with former members trying to win their old jobs back.
One of my opponents has a new ad, claiming that I will shut down all children's lemonade stands.
He says that I won't be acting alone, of course. I will do it in concert with my "progressive cronies" - the actual term in the ad. Presumably in return for corporate PAC contributions from Big Lemon.
Alan Grayson was a terrific Congressman during the term he spent in Congress. As a freshman member of the House of Representatives, he changed the national debate on health care, and made it stick. The Republicans have hated him for it ever since. They spent millions against him, to get him out of Congress in 2010. But now he's back.
Mitt Romney's plan to turn Medicare into a voucher program would enable him to pay for a massive tax cut for the rich, which former Rep. Alan Grayson described as Romney's "shell game" on PoliticsNation.
Alan Grayson was on national TV with Rev. Al Sharpton discussing Republican healthcare plans for seniors and the uninsured. Their old plan was “don’t get sick”; their new plans are far worse. This is what Alan said:
With early ballots in the mail, and only three weeks from the August 28th primary, State Senator David Schapira has emerged as the Democratic standard-bearer in a closely watched and increasingly nasty three-way congressional race in Arizona that many observers see as a litmus test for national Democratic chances to pick up critical seats in Congress.
“The primary in Congressional District 9 has pitted three of the brightest members of the Democratic Party in Arizona against each other. All three candidates are leaders in our state and I am honored to call them friends.
Endorsements are a funny thing. Most of them aren't worth anything at all. I have two friends running in the Democratic primary in Arizona's brand new 9th CD, Kyrsten Sinema and Andrei Cherny. Kyrsten is a progressive and Andrei is somewhere in his own world ideologically. But the third guy... well, he's the one who's been endorsed by Raúl-- and by PDA. Whomever wins the August 28th primary is, likelier than not, headed to Congress. That third guy is David Schapira, the Senate Democratic Leader.
On the May Inside the Party call, David Schapira (AZ-9) received the PDA National endorsement. Currently David Schapira is the Arizona State Senate Democratic Leader.
The Arizona Communications Workers of America (CWA) State Council announced today their endorsement of Senate Democratic Leader David Schapira, D-Tempe, in the race for Arizona’s Ninth Congressional District. The state council is comprised of the Arizona Correctional Peace Officers Association (AZCPOA), the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA and multiple CWA local affiliates.
Congressman Raúl Grijalva, AZ-07, today announced his endorsement of Arizona Senate Democratic Leader David Schapira, D-Tempe, in his campaign for Arizona’s Ninth Congressional District. “Voters are looking for candidates who stand up for what they believe in and can win, not by hiding their values, but by sharing them with voters. David is that candidate,” said Rep. Grijalva.
Arizona Governor Jan Brewer pushes the country's most anti-union agenda yet. David Shapira, Democratic leader of the Arizona state senate, slams his Republican colleagues. Welcome back to "The Ed Show." Jan Brewer and the Arizona Republicans are on a tear. they are on the offensive. they are on a mission to completely destroy public employee unions. have you heard the story before?
As predicted, former state Senator Kyrsten Sinema's not the only Democrat with her eye on Arizona's new Congressional seat -- this morning, state Senate Minority Leader David Schapira announced that he, too, will run in Arizona's newly formed 9th Congressional district.