Sunday, December 23, 2018

Done with Disparate Impact Analysis

From the always outstanding Heather Mac Donald, at City Journal, "Back to Discipline":

A federal commission on school safety has repudiated the use of disparate-impact analysis in evaluating whether school discipline is racially biased. The Trump administration should go further, and extirpate such analysis from the entirety of the federal code of regulations, as well as from informal government practice.

Disparate-impact analysis holds that if a facially-neutral policy negatively affects blacks and Hispanics at a higher rate than whites and Asians, it is discriminatory. Noticing the behavioral differences that lead to those disparate effects is forbidden. In the area of school discipline, disparate-impact analysis results in the conclusion that racially neutral rules must nevertheless contain bias, since black students nationally are suspended at nearly three times the rate of white students. In 2014, the Obama administration relied on this methodology to announce that schools that suspended or expelled black students at higher rates than white students were violating anti-discrimination laws.

To understand how counterfactual such an analysis is, consider Duval County, Florida, which has Florida’s highest juvenile homicide rate. Seventy-three children, some as young as 11, have been arrested for murder and manslaughter over the last decade, according to the Florida Times-Union. Black juveniles made up 87.6 percent of those arrests and whites 8 percent. The black population in Duval County—which includes Jacksonville—was 28.9 percent in 2010 and the white population 56.6 percent, making black youngsters 21.6 times more likely to be arrested for homicide than white youngsters. Nationally, black males between the ages of 14 and 17 commit homicide at ten times the rate of white and Hispanic male teens combined; if Hispanics were removed from the equation, the black-white disparity would be much greater.

Beneath those homicide numbers is a larger juvenile crime wave. “The reason so many kids commit murder in Jacksonville is not because they are murderers, but because they are everything else: drug dealers, robbers, thieves, rapists and a bunch of other types of criminals whose crimes of choice has a great likelihood of leading to a murder,” a teen murder convict, Aaron Wright, told the Florida Times-Union. Fifty-nine percent of juvenile murder convicts from Duval County who responded to the paper’s inmate survey reported that they were committing another crime such as robbery or burglary when they or their co-defendant killed their victim. Wright himself was robbing a woman when his fellow robber shot and killed her, making Wright guilty of felony murder.

The same family dysfunction and lack of socialization that create this juvenile crime wave inevitably affects classroom behavior. Duval County Public Schools also have the highest number of violent campus incidents of any Florida school district. Nationwide, schools with the highest minority populations report the highest number of disciplinary infractions. Schools that are 50 percent minority or more experience weekly gang activity at nearly ten times the rate of schools where minorities constituted 5 percent to 20 percent of the population, according to the 2018 “Indicators of School Crime and Safety” report produced by the U.S. Justice and Education Departments. Gang violence in schools with less than 5 percent minority populations was too low to be usable statistically. Widespread weekly disorder in classrooms was reported in schools with at least 50 percent minority populations at more than five times the rate as in schools with 5 percent to 20 percent minorities. More than four times as many high-minority schools reported weekly verbal abuse of teachers compared with schools with a minority student body less than 20 percent. Widespread disorder and teacher abuse at schools with less than 5 percent minority populations was again too low to be statistically reliable.

The “School Crime and Safety” reports produced during the Obama years contained identical disparities. And yet the Obama administration held that the only possible reason why blacks are disciplined in school more than whites is teacher and administrator bias. Never mind that teaching is the most “woke” profession in the country after social work, with education schools frantically indoctrinating their students in white privilege and critical race theory.

And so school districts, threatened with a loss of federal funding if they didn’t reduce racial disparities in discipline, left disruptive students in the classroom rather than removing them...
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