Trump 'Safety' Commission: Prevent School Shootings By Expelling More Black Kids!
After February's school massacre in Parkland, Florida, Donald Trump got right to work doing something about all the guns in circulation in America, recommending tighter background checks and age restrictions on the purchase of semiautomatic rifles like the one used in the shooting, as well as making it easier to take guns away from dangerous unstable people. He even vowed to take any flak the NRA might throw at him, for the sake of our precious young people. The NRA immediately freaked out, so Trump then corrected his wrongthink and declared we need a lot more teachers packing heat, yeah, that's the ticket.
Trump also gave Education Secretary Betsy DeVos the task of chairing a commission to recommend how to make schools safer, and that commission, safely past the immediate horror of that particular mass shooting and the election, has issued its very important report and recommendations. Hope you won't be too surprised the report has very little to say about guns, but is just full of rightwing plans for making schools better, as long as everyone can still buy all the guns they want. And one of the report's chief recommendations to make schools safer is a beaut: Rescind Obama-era rules aimed at addressing racial disparities in school discipline, because only by getting tougher on minority kids can we truly be safe.
Funny thing, that section of the report isn't even mentioned in the White House Press release praising Dear Leader (the release is splashily titled "President Donald J. Trump Is Committed to Making Our Schools Safer." Happily, there's no patriotic march to go along with it). But it's a pretty substantial part of the report, taking up eight pages (including notes), compared to the section rejecting a change in the minimum age to buy a rifle or shotgun (3 pages with notes), which says there's no evidence it would accomplish anything, but does call for "more study."
So how did a recommendation to do away with an Obama guidance to not punish minority kids more harshly than white kids take pride of place in a report that's ostensibly about preventing massacres, which are generally committed by white males? Simple! Republicans HATED that rule!
Republicans have decried the policy as government overreach since it was released in 2014. The policy advocated "constructive approaches" to school discipline, such as victim-offender mediation, as opposed to harsher penalties such as suspensions or expulsions. [...]
The commission argues that the guidance left schools unable—or at least afraid to—take action against potentially dangerous students. "Policy guidance issued under the Obama Administration placed an emphasis on tracking school disciplinary actions by race," the report says. "The Guidance sent the unfortunate message that the federal government, rather than teachers and local administrators, best handles school discipline."
As the Wall Street Journal explains, the Obama rule became a convenient target for rightwing thought leaders when reports emerged that the shooter at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High had engaged in some pretty clear red-flag behavior like "drinking gasoline, cutting himself and owning a gun he intended to use." If only it weren't for liberal namby-pamby alternative discipline, maybe he'd have been arrested and put away, because that kind of imaginary scenario is much more satisfying and punitive than the imaginary scenario where 19-year-olds aren't allowed to buy military-grade weapons to do mass murder with.
You don't have to look far in the rightwingosphere to find warnings that Obama's policy of trying to keep schools from imposing harsher discipline on minorities actually "[allowed] thousands of troubled, often violent, students to commit crimes without legal consequence." Clearly, Obama's misguided attempt to slow the school-to-prison pipeline just leaves us all at the mercy of hordes of rampaging killer black and brown kids. Or at least kept some schools from expelling the mouthy ones. According to one rightwing story, the terrible Broward school superintendent practically pulled the trigger himself by wimpifying school discipline!
Superintendent Robert W. Runcie – a Chicagoan and Harvard graduate with close ties to President Obama and his Education Department – signed an agreement with the county sheriff and other local jurisdictions to trade cops for counseling. Students charged with various misdemeanors, including assault, would now be disciplined through participation in "healing circles," obstacle courses and other "self-esteem building" exercises.
Chicago! Obama! Counseling instead of cops! Healing circles!!!!! Also, don't be fooled by the "Obama ed rules did Parkland" crap -- WSJ reports DeVos "had targeted [the Obama rules] for elimination even before the Parkland shooting." Hey, why not cram that into a report on a mass shooting that scary minority teens had nothing to do with?
So yeah, that nonsense should all go away, and now no one will ever slip through the cracks again, maybe. However pleasing that may be to the Git Tough caucus which insists we can punish our way to safety, dumb old liberals found reason to whine about "discrimination" and "stereotyping" anyway:
"Most out-of-school suspensions come from minor, nonviolent offenses," said Kristen Harper, who led school discipline initiatives in the Obama Education Department. "So addressing those have nothing to do with addressing school safety."
Unequal discipline is no longer a problem anyway, since under DeVos, the Education Department has simply ended discrimination by no longer investigating it, hooray.
The report also has one or two ideas that are not altogether terrible, like support for
extreme risk protection orders to temporarily seize firearms from people who appear mentally disturbed, though it emphasized that such efforts should be carried out without affecting "Second Amendment liberties," senior administration officials said on Tuesday.
The report also encourages schools and communities to provide more and better mental health services, although of course it wouldn't dream of calling for more funding, don't be silly.
And of course there's the stupid stuff: Let's have more armed adults in school, from cops to armed volunteers like military veterans or teachers who've taken firearms training. The report would leave that up to the states to decide, though, and backs away from an idea DeVos floated earlier this year to use federal education dollars to fund such training. There's even a nod to 1990s rightwing thought leaders: a call for state and local authorities to "develop ratings systems for violent video games, which the report posits contribute to a culture of violence."
Surprisingly, the report doesn't call for an end to abortion, which also contributes to a culture of death and school shootings -- it's just about the only thing the report omits from the post-shooting wingnut kitchen sink of talking points.
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