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
Suspended Reality: The Impact of Suspension Policy on School Safety
Feds in the Classroom II: The Implications of Federal Intervention on IDEA Discipline for States
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.
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.
Media and Commentary
The Federalist | What’s Behind The Massive Spike In Violence Inside Public Schools Nationwide
December 1, 2021 | Dan Lennington and Will Flanders
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