The Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights may not last long in Trump’s America, its employees and advocates fear. The transition’s stated intention to “streamline the department,” coupled with a stated goal to overturn Obama-era executive overreaches, spells trouble for the department’s small but active office.
Thus, a planned ‘celebration’ of OCR’s accomplishments at the Department of Education headquarters Thursday morning was really more of a funeral. If an alien from a more sensible planet had dropped in on the event, he would have noted tearful sniffling and prayerful entreaties to stay strong and keep the faith—and assumed something more than federal money and power had been lost.
In nearly eight years under the Obama administration, celebrants recounted, the office has issued 34 ‘policy guidance documents.’ These are edicts reinterpreting existing laws—new executive entanglements, made mandatory by funding incentives, that also serve a moral imperative.
They’ve closed 66,000 investigations, every one of them initiated to bring a school or college in line with OCR’s federal mandates. Among these are the 2011 guidance concerning campus sexual assault; a more recent and no less controversial guidance to clarify that gender segregation is discriminatory; and a racial equity check on disciplinary practices that has, in some cases, been linked to increased violence in schools.
But in the minds and hearts of those who’ve carried them out, OCR’s goals guided the nation toward the light of righteousness and salvation. There is no higher aim than theirs: to show every child the federal government believes in his or her ability to succeed. The message of federally-ordained disciplinary reforms is, in Secretary King’s words, ‘We love you and we want you to be successful.
One might ask why the Department of Education has an “Office of Civil Rights.” Isn’t it the job of the Department of Justice to enforce the laws relating to civil rights? Does the DOE have law enforcement powers? Can it prosecute violations of the law? Yes, no, and no. The Office of Civil Rights is the vanguard of a holy progressive crusade:
The work of OCR,’ King told the audience, many of whom work at the civil rights office, ‘is just critical to the mission of schools to save lives.’ What he seems to have meant, but cannot say in a secular age, is that before federal education reforms save lives, they save souls: ‘That kind of [unconditionally loving] culture in a school … has been the difference for some kids between whether or not they drop out, whether or not they have the opportunity to graduate, or whether or not they stay connected to school or become disconnected and end up getting involved in violence.
And of course, the salvation of the souls, the very lives, of America’s children would not be possible without the loving ministrations of the federal Office of Civil Rights within the Department of Education. Local schools, local churches, parents, all are insufficient to accomplish the holy task. In fact, they can’t be trusted. They aren’t morally and intellectually superior ascended beings, lightworkers like Mr. Obama. They can’t possibly know what is good for them and their children, so they need the benevolent guidance of the Office of Civil Rights.
In a testimonial video in-between tributes, former Assistant Education Secretary for Civil Rights Russlynn Ali cast the office of civil rights as a benevolent higher power. ‘OCR’s job is to protect young people, and young people and their teachers and communities need to have faith that OCR will respond to them. So call on it.
Praise the holy Office of Civil Rights! Tell it, Brother:
And, addressing the room, former Education Secretary Arne Duncan said of OCR, ‘People call us, call you, when they’re going through horrific times and when they’ve tried 12 other things.
I can’t tell you how many times the teachers and staff at my mid-sized Texas high school have, after trying 12 other things, cried as one voice: “call the Office of Civil Rights, for therein lies salvation!” Really. I can’t tell you, because it has never happened. In fact, it’s hard to imagine that ever happening anywhere outside of traditional Democrat-ruled cities and states, and their calls for salvation are limited to begging for federal dollars and sufficient governmental abuse of power to destroy their enemies. But in case you, gentle readers, doubted the holy nature of the work of the Office of Civil Rights:
Marian Wright Edelman, founder of the Children’s Defense Fund, assured career bureaucrats they’re doing ‘the Lord’s work’ and then issued a grandmotherly scold: ‘You’re probably going to have some real bad days,’ she said—but, ‘You stay in place.”
‘We’ve been here before, but not this bad,’ Edelman told them. Under President Reagan, she said, ‘We lost billions, but we got it back’—and ‘we figured out how to make sure that we protected the structure of the laws.
Translation: “We”—federal bureaucrats and progressive NGOs and money-men—have been able to thwart the equal application of the law, overrun our lawful boundaries, and force flyover country America to do our bidding. We are the law. All you have to do is lay low, survive until we’re in power again.
The arrogance of these people provides an important lesson. Even if we give them credit for good intentions—and their words and actions suggest we shouldn’t—the unprecedented intrusion and abuse of power these people so gladly force on local schools must be anathema to Americans. There is scarcely a more obvious example of out of control federal micromanagement of state and local government.
And of course, these people cannot imagine anything they’re doing might be wrong. In fact, they think the warping, even the ignoring, of the law, and the abuse of power, to the detriment of their fellow Americans, holy.
One can only hope Mr. Trump will dethrone these false prophets, and forever break their potential for abuse.