Statement by NOW President Toni Van Pelt
WASHINGTON – Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos has revoked the “Rethink Discipline” guidelines, issued during the Obama administration, which reminded schools of their responsibility to address racial discrimination in school discipline. Without these guardrails, schools can continue to funnel minority students into the “school to prison pipeline,” which removes students from public schools and places them in the criminal justice system, often for minor infractions or contrived offenses pertaining to their “attitude,” their clothes, hairstyle, or the trauma they’ve experienced.
This is the latest example of how Betsy DeVos—and Donald Trump—want to retool the federal government into an instrument of shredding civil rights, rather than protecting them. The effect will be to further marginalize the already marginalized and criminalize the too-often criminalized students of color.
Students of color are more likely to have learning disabilities or histories of poverty, abuse, or neglect. They need caring and culturally competent teachers, a safe learning environment and comprehensive counseling and mental health services. Instead, under Betsy DeVos’ cruel plan, they will be further isolated, punished, and denied the opportunity to continue their education.
NOW calls on Secretary DeVos to cancel her unwarranted, unjustified and racially discriminatory guidance and stop using minority students as political pawns in Donald Trump’s politics of division. Our public schools are the backbone of our civil society and students should feel safe, respected, and valued as they strive to learn.
NOW Press, firstname.lastname@example.org, 202-628-8669