School Discipline

During the Obama administration, the federal Department of Education began an unprecedented intervention into America’s classrooms. Federal bureaucrats issued guidance to, and threatened investigation of, state and local school officials to force changes in schools suspension policies in order to combat racial discrimination.

Since 2017, WILL has examined the impact of these policy changes on Wisconsin schools.

Research and Analysis

Feds in the Classroom

Feds in the Classroom II: The Implications of Federal Intervention on IDEA Discipline for States

June 18, 2019 | Will Flanders and Lucas Vebber

WILL’s report finds that federal intervention in discipline policy through mandating race-based suspension thresholds for students with disabilities is likely to cause many states to implement quotas for compliance.

Press Release | Report

Collateral Damage: The Impact of Department of Education Policies on Wisconsin Schools

January 23, 2018 | Will Flanders and Natalie Goodnow

This report is the first of its kind, using 7 years of data from over 2,000 Wisconsin public schools to provide a comprehensive analysis of the effect of the Positive Behavioral Intervention and Supports (PBIS) system on student test scores and suspension rates. PBIS, a federally funded program the Obama Administration pressured districts to implement, encourages softer discipline policies to address student behavior, such as pro-active interventions, rather than suspensions.

Press Release | Report

Feds in the Classroom: The Impact of the Obama Administration’s Discipline Policy on Wisconsin’s Public Schools

October 11, 2017 | Will Flanders and Natalie Goodnow

A new report that reveals federal actions to change discipline policies led to suspension rates plummeting in Wisconsin public schools. In particular, the WILL review shows that the racial disparity of suspensions, ostensibly the aim of the federal policies, has not closed at Milwaukee Public Schools. The study also underscores the growing body of literature concluding that factors other than race, i.e. poverty, are the main predictor of whether a child is suspended.

Press Release | Report

Media and Commentary

The Federalist | Joe Biden Plans To Revive School Rules Punishing Kids According To Skin Color

May 21, 2021 | Will Flanders

Fordham Institute | An Obama-era regulation is likely to establish unconstitutional racial quotas

August 5, 2019 | Will Flanders and Lucas Vebber

Washington Examiner | New York Times tries and fails to paint Trump administration as racist

December 19, 2018 | Rick Esenberg

New York Daily News | The negative effects of Obama's ‘positive’ school discipline policies

March 16, 2018 | Will Flanders and Natalie Goodnow

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel | Obama school discipline policies hurt Wisconsin kids

November 27, 2017 | Will Flanders and Natalie Goodnow