Washington State to Implement Race-Based School Discipline

While many states have adopted legislation to push back against critical race theory (CRT) and its application in education, Washington state is going in the opposite direction. A new education policy seeks to establish “educational equity” and dismantle “institutional racism.” The aim of the policy is to ensure equal outcome across racial and cultural lines, meaning that race would determine the severity of school discipline. This policy, as well as a similar measure that promotes “cultural competency” for educators was passed by a Democrat-controlled legislature and governor in what is a deep blue state.

The Washington State School Directors Association (WSSDA) provided training to the state’s school boards for enforcing ESSB 5044. The bill is described as “AN ACT Relating to equity, cultural competency, and dismantling institutional racism in the public school system.”  Mandatory training emphasizes the difference between “equity” and “equality” while stressing the importance of achieving the former. The guidance document mentions “specific trainings that explore what equity means, how it differs from equality, why it creates better student outcomes, and what the role of the board is in moving towards equity”.

The Twitter account “Libs of TikTok” shared a video of a Clover Park School District (WA) school board meeting where the policy was being discussed. Implementation of the legislation was voted on at the meeting as well.

Unreal. @CloverParkSD passed a policy last week for “cultural discipline.” It means staff will consider a student’s race before punishment to ensure discipline is dispersed “equitably” pic.twitter.com/WXhZLYfd61

— Libs of Tik Tok (@libsoftiktok) March 22, 2022

In the video, the school board members were focusing specifically on how students should be disciplined differently based on their race and the culture they come from. In practice, this policy would lead to white students receiving harsher punishment than minority students for committing the same rule violation, with equal outcomes being the ultimate goal. Also, a student’s cultural background could be used to excuse themselves from discipline.

This article from Seattle radio host Jason Rantz goes in depth describing what is discussed in the video and the context behind it.

Credit and more info: @jasonrantz https://t.co/oWdUD5QLe4

— Libs of Tik Tok (@libsoftiktok) March 22, 2022

In the video, the school board members disagreed on the policy. Two of those speaking in the video expressed concern with the idea that students should be treated differently based on things that are outside of their control, such as their race and cultural background. One of the school board members who pushed back said that “if we both did the same thing, we should get the same consequence”, referring to the idea that two students of different racial groups or cultural backgrounds advocating should be disciplined equally as opposed to race-based school discipline.

However, the policy passed after the dissenters were outvoted three to two.

RELATED: Virginia House of Delegates Passes Legislation That Bans Critical Race Theory in K-12 Schools

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