Earlier this year, the New York State Education Department (NYSED) outraged parents by issuing a 42-page guidance document directing New York schools to conform to radical “transgender” ideology in a variety of dangerous and objectionable ways.
On August 9, 2023, NYSED and New York Attorney General Letitia James issued yet another guidance document to New York schools. This time, the subject of the document is diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI).
Given that the left-wing concept of diversity, equity, and inclusion is flawed, it is no surprise that the August 9 Guidance Document (the “DEI Guidance”) gives flawed and mistaken instructions to New York schools. The most troubling contents of the DEI Guidance relate to curricula and to student discipline.
Regarding curricula, the DEI Guidance asserts that school districts must not “respond to local electorates or stakeholders by banning curricular materials that accurately portray and critically analyze topics related to protected classes such as race, national origin, gender (including gender identity and expression), or sexual orientation.” Furthermore, districts must not: (a) use “a pretext of inappropriateness or lewdness to systemically remove diverse perspectives from the classroom”; or (b) prohibit “discussions related to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, nonbinary and gender expansive people, or diverse family structures and identities using a pretext of inappropriateness or obscenity.” This language is designed to make it very difficult for schools to remove explicit homosexual or “transgender” content from the classroom based on parental complaints.
Employing a vaguely Marxist tone, the DEI Guidance also states that schools should “empower students as agents of social change” and should “[a]dopt curriculum [sic] that highlights contributions and includes texts reflective of the diverse identities of students and reframes the monocultural framework that privileges the historically advantaged at the expense of other groups.”
The language of the DEI Guidance pertaining to student discipline is even more disturbing. The DEI Guidance notes that according to the U.S. Department of Education (USDOE), racial disparities in student discipline are “widespread and persistent.” The DEI Guidance adds that such disparities violate state and federal law. Without bothering to examine any data from USDOE to confirm that these disparities even exist in New York schools, the DEI Guidance offers a solution: Use “restorative practices to keep students in the classroom” and minimize the use of “punitive suspension practices.” According to the DEI Guidance, “punitive approaches to addressing student behavior are not just ineffective but harmful.”
The problem with the DEI Guidance’s approach to discipline is that it throws the baby out with the bathwater. Instead of ensuring that students are disciplined fairly, the DEI Guidance—much like the left’s disastrous criminal justice policies—proposes to move away from discipline altogether. Daniel Buck of National Review explains that a “progressive view of human nature” leads some people to oppose student discipline. In this view, “misbehavior “stems not from sin or human imperfection but from broken systems and ‘root causes’… [The] cause of misbehavior is external to the student himself, and so we ought not hold him accountable for his actions. This view is wrong, both in its theory and in its practical effect. The simple fact is that misbehavior is inherent to children and to humanity in general.” As the Lord says in Romans 3:23, “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”
Discipline is not a dirty word; in fact, it is essential. Proverbs 13:24 says, “Whoever spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is diligent to discipline him.” A school that fails to correct students who need correction does those students a disservice. It does not prepare them for the real world—a world where wrong actions have consequences. Moreover, Daniel Buck adds that “aversion to punishing misbehavior has left teachers and students unsafe,” and that “the retreat from discipline” in American schools during the past decade “has directly degraded the learning atmosphere, sowing chaos and stunting students; and it has demoralized and depressed teachers, pushing them to leave the profession.” Chillingly, Buck asserts that “the incidence of classroom violence has doubled since the pandemic.” The costs involved in adopting education policies based on a warped and unrealistic view of human nature are all too real.
 Buck, Daniel. “The Discipline Disaster.” National Review, vol. LXXV, no. 16, August 28, 2023, pp. 52-54.