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WRF Board Chairman Rick Perrin Wonders Why It's Racist to Punish Children

WRF Board Chairman Rick Perrin Wonders Why It's Racist to Punish Children

Yes, you read the title of this piece correctly. 

On January 8 the Department of Justice co-wrote a letter with the Department of Education and sent it to public schools around the country. 

Its first decree: Schools should take race into consideration when disciplining students. 

The goal, apparently, is to make discipline equal for the various racial demographic groups.  So, for example, punishments should be lighter for those groups who tend to get into trouble more often than others so that no group is punished more often than another.

African American, Hispanic, and Native American students more often come from single parent homes and therefore they tend to misbehave or act out at a higher rate.  The Departments are concerned that in the attempt to punish consistently for each infraction, these groups will be disciplined more often.  And that’s not fair.

Specifically, this is what the letter said: “Schools…violate Federal law when they evenhandedly implement facially neutral policies and practices that, although not adopted with the intent to discriminate, nonetheless have an unjustified effect of discriminating against students on the basis of race.”

Well, you ask, what kinds of offenses are we concerned about here?  Again the letter: 

“Examples of policies that can raise disparate impact concerns include policies that impose mandatory suspension, expulsion, or citation (e.g., ticketing or other fines or summonses) upon any student who commits a specified offense — such as being tardy to class, being in possession of a cellular phone, being found insubordinate, acting out, or not wearing the proper school uniform.”  (Emphasis ours).

So, think about this.  A student strolls in late to class.  Or he talks back and smart mouths the teacher.  If the Federal policy is to be followed, that student essentially will be allowed to get away with his misbehavior.  Or his misbehavior is treated more lightly than similar misbehavior by a student from a social or racial group that gets into trouble less often. 

Or put it another way: The well behaved student is penalized because most of the time he is well-behaved, and the unruly student is rewarded by receiving a lesser penalty.  This is a policy that says--bottom line--a student is not responsible for his actions. 

Who loses?  Everybody.  The good student loses because he is in a classroom that is out of control.   The undisciplined student loses because he is never made to learn. And education loses because it is impossible in such a climate.  I have teacher friends who have left the profession because they have found it impossible to teach in classrooms or schools where students cannot be controlled.

The book of Proverbs in the Bible says, “He who spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him disciplines him diligently.”  (Proverbs 13:24)

I feel compelled to ask, “Do the Departments of Justice and Education hate black children?  It would seem so.  Their policy appears to me to be hatefully racist.  And that’s not good.  For any of us.

Dr. Rick Perrin is Chairman of the Board of World Reformed Fellowship and senior pastor of Covenant Presbyterian Church in Cherry Hill NJ.


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