The present leader of the United States Department of Education has indicated a new initiative that is designed to rescind the civil rights for Blacks students. During the Obama administration, several guidelines were directed at schools to eliminate the travesties associated with the challenges that students of color faced in public schools. Schools will need to continue to protect the rights of Black students as well as other students of color to ensure that they avoid the future embarrassment associated with not following the law outlined in the Every Student Succeeds Act.

The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) is a US law passed in December 2015 that governs the United States K–12 public education policy. The law replaced its predecessor, the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB), and modified but did not eliminate provisions relating to the periodic standardized tests given to students. Like the No Child Left Behind Act, ESSA is a reauthorization of the 1965 Elementary and Secondary Education Act, which established the federal government’s expanded role in public education. The Every Student Succeeds Act passed both chambers of Congress with bipartisan support.  

On January 20, 2017 from President Donald Trump’s Assistant to the President and Chief of Staff “Regulatory Freeze Pending Review” delayed implementation of new regulations, including portions of the Every Student Succeeds Act. On February 10, 2017, U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos wrote to chief state school officers that “states should continue their work” in developing their ESSA plans and noted that a revised template may be issued. In March 2017, Republican lawmakers with the support of the Trump administration used the Congressional Review Act to eliminate the Obama administration’s accountability regulations.

The first problem with the initiative to rescind the civil rights protections for Black students is that they can change the regulations, but they cannot change the law without the approval of both houses of congress. The Every Student Succeeds Act Section 4108 5(f) reveals that state plans may include programs and activities designed to reduce exclusionary discipline practices in elementary and secondary schools. And school programs may also have plans aligned with the long-term goal of prison reduction.

The second problem is that the language of the Every Student Succeeds Act does not specify Black students. However, it does specify the circumstances of students. The first specification is disproportionate discipline. According to a new report from the Government Accountability Office (GAO), the federal government’s nonpartisan watchdog arm found that Black students, boys and students with disabilities were disproportionately disciplined in K-12 public schools. Specifically, Black students accounted for 15.5 percent of all public-school students but represented about 39 percent of students suspended from school during the 2013-14 school year, an overrepresentation of about 23 percentage points.

The third problem is that that language of the Every Student Succeeds Act specifies reducing prison opportunities for all students. Even though the school to prison pipeline has a greater impact on Black students, the reality is that White students are also committing crimes. For example, most of the culprits of the worst mass shootings since the massacre at Columbine High School in 1999 have been white males.

As a result of the initiative to rescind civil rights protections for Black students the United States Department of Education can expect litigation from both the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). This will put on hold any movement in the intuitive until it is resolved in federal court.

As schools are waiting for a decision, they must conduct a self-evaluation of programs presently in place. The Department of Education has emphasized that many of the programs designed to reduce disproportionate discipline and eliminate the school to prison pipeline are not working. A self-assessment of present programs will provide the school district the leverage to continue their efforts to meet the Every Student Succeeds Act requirements.

Another option for schools is to pilot other programs such as promoting a positive school culture by promoting positive racial teacher student classroom relationships. The program is designed to eliminate disproportionate discipline and the challenges associated with the school to prison pipeline to ensure the civil rights protections of Black students and other students of color. 

Related Articles

Safety Commission Recommends Scrapping Obama Race-Based School Discipline Policy

Trump Officials Plan to Rescind Obama-Era School Discipline Policies

Betsy DeVos panel rejects Obama-era effort to reduce discrimination in school discipline

All the best,

Dr. Derrick L. Campbell, Ed.D.
PO Box 4707 Cherry Hill, NJ 08034

(856) 566-3267


Author of:

  • Promoting Positive Racial Teacher Student Classroom Relationships
  • Promoting Positive Racial Teacher Student Classroom Relationships: Methodology
  • The Raccelerate Formula App
  • Treasures of Hidden Racism in Education
  • The Ultimate Guide to Classroom Racism Management

“Dr. Campbell did his part and now all we have to do is run with it.”
 ~ Tom Coleman ~
Woodstown-Pilesgrove Public Schools Superintendent of Schools

“The model that you use to analyze teacher-student relationships is a good one for most school districts”.

~ Joe Vas ~ Perth Amboy Mayor

“Dr. Campbell’s Cultural Relationship Training Program is comprehensive, informative, and should be required training for all schools”

~ Darrell Pope ~ Hutchinson Kansas NAACP President ~

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