Federal Influence on State and Local School-Discipline Policies



By Jane Robbins and Erin Tuttle - Posted at Truth in American Education:

Much discussion of the Parkland, Florida school shooting has centered on how the discipline policies of the Broward County Public Schools (BCPS) may have been designed not to make the schools safer, but to make the schools’ statistics on suspensions, expulsions, and referrals to law enforcement look better. Better to whom? To a great extent, to the federal government during the Obama administration. This tragic case illustrates what tends to happen when the federal government meddles with local or state policies.

In a book Deconstructing the Administrative State: The Fight for Liberty that we co-authored with Emmett McGroarty, we detail how the federal government influences or even dictates local policies by various means, including 1) issuing “guidance” that localities are encouraged to implement as if it were legally binding; 2) creating multi-agency initiatives that leverage federal power to force local policy changes; and 3) making grants directly to local entities.

Deeper scrutiny is needed to uncover how all this played out in Broward. But what we do know suggests substantial – and ultimately harmful – efforts to appease the federal government with respect to school discipline.

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