DeVos on 60 Minutes and the School-to-Prison Pipeline | Last Week’s Best Articles

Our team is always seeking the latest news in the field of education. As advocates for a quality education for ALL students, we know we have to stay up-to-date on everything that’s going on in the education spheres of our nation…from the White House to the local public school district, from new legislation to the small acts of bravery and kindness made by a single teacher, from the milestones and celebrations to the hazardous injustices affecting many of our nations students.

Here are the best stories we came across last week…because we believe you should stay up-to-date, too!


Education Secretary Betsy DeVos’s controversial 60 Minutes interview, explained via Vox

The fallout from Betsy DeVos’s disastrous media tour continues — and the secretary of education and her staff are making it worse.

To recap: DeVos sat down with Lesley Stahl of 60 Minutes for an interview that aired Sunday, in which the Cabinet member struggled to answer basic questions, including about the performance of schools in her home state of Michigan and why she rolled back an Obama-era policy on campus sexual assault.


DeVos commission eyes Obama school discipline rules via USA Today

Most of the headlines emerging from the White House’s new “hardening schools” proposal are focusing on its push to arm teachers and other staff to protect against school shooters.

But buried deep in the proposal, is the announcement of a new Federal Commission on School Safety, led by Education Secretary Betsy DeVos.

At the moment, the idea consists of a single line in a White House announcement, but that is sufficient to worry school safety, civil rights, and teachers’ advocates. They say protecting schools from outside gunmen is an entirely different job from the day-to-day effort to manage school discipline so it doesn’t discriminate against minority and disabled students.


When Chicago cut down on suspensions, students saw test scores and attendance rise, study finds via Chalkbeat

As school districts across the country have cut back on suspensions, critics claimed that the changes have led to chaos in the classroom. But there’s been remarkably little hard evidence either for or against that view.

That’s why a new study of Chicago Public Schools is so significant.

It found that a modest drop in suspensions for high-level offenses actually led to small increases in test scores and attendance for all students in a school. The research, recently published in the peer-reviewed Peabody Journal of Education, bolsters the case of discipline reformers who argue that school suspensions are ineffective and disproportionately target students of color.


One thing to read this week…

Will Betsy DeVos Expand the School-to-Prison Pipeline? via New York Times Op-Ed

“The logic that people try to manufacture is that the effort to end exclusionary school discipline renders schools unsafe places,” Catherine Lhamon, who served as assistant secretary for civil rights in Obama’s Department of Education, told me. “It doesn’t even bear scrutiny, really.”

But in this administration, it doesn’t have to. DeVos isn’t just considering ending the policy. Speaking to Stahl, she refused to even admit that race plays a role in discipline.

Among experts, this isn’t really a subject for debate. “There’s some fairly good empirical evidence that says minority students are more likely than white students in similar situations to be written up and disciplined,” said Michael Hansen, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution who studies education policy.


Did any of these articles particularly speak to you? We would love to know your thoughts! Let us know in the comments below:

Showing 3 comments
  • R Lyn Alexander
    Reply

    As an educator myself, when comparing the school system of that where my nieces & nephews attend, I notice more harsh disciplinary actions dished to them who are students of color schooled mostly by caucasian teachers who I feel can not relate to black children. Therefore, often times they misinterpret behaviors of minority students as acts of disrespect or threats. Moreover, I feel once you approach students in suggestive manners, you in turn make the situation worse. My nephew who is ADHD, yet intelligent has been suspended from school times this year–some of those being extended periods. This has effected his grades. The school, nor the district has not taken in consideration the fact he lost his sister in a tragic accident over the summer. Also, the minute reasons he is being suspended for, would never fly in the school district I work for. Yet, you will find similar situations throughout that school district pertaining to African American students.

  • Marilyn S. Ruben
    Reply

    I worked with the Juvenile Court System as a Mental Health Counselor & Family Therapist for several years in the mid-1990’s. There were 22 youths on my Caseload, ages l3-l7. Most of them were Latino, with a few Afro-Americans and a few Native Americans. Only 2 youths on my entire caseload were Caucasian, and they came from homes that had enough money to pay an Attorney to get them out of trouble. The Minority Youths did not have that kind of luck. They had Public Defenders who told them to “take the plea,” and about one-third of my total caseload was incarcerated. Those over age l3 went to County Jail, and over age l7 – to State Prison. I saw a LOT of bias on the part of the Court System, because most of those who.went to County Jail or State Prison were victims of “set-ups” by BAD FRIENDS who made sugges-
    tons to them when they were under the influence of Drugs or Alcohol.If they had been sober, maybe they would not have done those things.

    I think we need stronger Drug Prevention and Treatment Programs for Junior High and High School Students. I think School Counselors are a necessity, and that Teachers should make referrals to Counselors and Counselors should make referrals to Mental Health and Drug Abuse Programs. If the problems continue, there should be regular Staffings between the School Counselor, the Mental Health or Drug Abuse Treatment Program, and the Parents. Waiting until 36 phone calls have been made to the Police is absurd! It doesn’t matter what ethnic group they are in ! It DOES matter that they receive immediate attention and that they and their problems are not “sloughed off” as someone or something unimportant. Trained therapists learn to listen, no matter what the ethnic group. The Counselor’s Code of Ethics states this! Maybe Betsy DeVos needs to read the Counselor’s Code of Ethics and STOP BLAMING KIDS for their Ethnicity!!!! She needs to work on Problem-Solving, like the School Environment (“Clean and Healthy?” or “In Need of Upgrading?”), the status of the Textbooks (“New” or “Out-of-Date and Dog-Eared?”), the Mood of Students & Teachers (High Morale or Low?), and “What Seems to be the Biggest Problem in Learning?” She also needs to take a tour of the neighborhood and to see the status of the homes and businesses there, and quit blaming people for their poverty. Maybe the kids need tutoring. Maybe they need positive activities like Art and Music and Dance Programs, but they have no funding to provide that ! Maybe she needs to look BEYOND Test Scores and Statistics on Dropouts and to see what is REALLY going on in some of the homes in the area. I think Betsy Devos need a serious “Field Trip” to some areas like Baltimore, where the riots occurred a while back. Has anything changed since then? Do the students have Recreational Outlets, or is the Parks & Recreation Building still locked against their admission? Are there activities in the community to give the kids an outlet for their creative energy? – like Sports or After-School activities? Are the subjects taught relevant to their daily survival or to possible College Admission? Is there a Public Library nearby, within walking distance? All these things are important. Betsy DeVos needs a course in Sociology, before she makes any more comments about Race.

  • Brenda McFadden
    Reply

    The majority of black/ African American youth want to do good and succeed in school. However, when the school system is quick to judge them because they are having problems separating what they are being taught about their ability to aquire a peace of the “American Pie” from what they are actually experiencing in the course of every day life, i.e., racism, inequality, poverty and a society that does little to improve the human condition of brown people like them because it’s easier to just lock them up and throw away the key. Then…., cause and effect equals chaos.

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