No one who follows the blogging collective known as the "Conservative Treehouse" will dispute my claim that its most prominent blogger, "Sundance" by name, is America's best reporter. I got to know Sundance doing research for my book on the Trayvon Martin shooting, If I Had a Son. So instrumental was the research of Sundance and his colleagues that I made the "Treepers" the protagonists of the book.
Sundance's research into the political dynamics of Martin's Miami-Dade school system led him to expand his research into neighboring Broward County years before the Parkland shooting. We communicated the day after that shooting. We had a shared sense of what had gone wrong. I detailed some of this last week in an article on what one public interest magazine called the "Broward County solution." In Broward County, they call it more modestly the "PROMISE Program."
In November 2013, Sundance first reported that Broward County was "willing to jump on the diversionary bandwagon." As an attached Associated Press article noted, "One of the nation's largest school districts has reached an agreement with law enforcement agencies and the NAACP to reduce the number of students being charged with crimes for minor offenses." The goal, as the article explained, was to create an alternative to the zero-tolerance policies then in place by giving principals, not law enforcement, the authority to determine the nature of the offense.
In a collaborative agreement among school officials and law enforcement, the presence of the NAACP might seem anomalous, but not in the Obama era, where considerations of race routinely shaped educational policy. "One of the first things I saw was a huge differential in minority students, black male students in particular, in terms of suspensions and arrests," Broward's recently hired school superintendent, Robert Runcie, told the American Prospect. A black American, Runcie assumed that the differential was due largely to some unspoken institutional bias against minorities. As he saw it, these suspensions played a major role in the so-called "achievement gap" between white and minority students.
The first two "whereas" clauses in the collaborative agreement deal with opportunities for students in general, but the third speaks to the motivating issue behind the agreement: "Whereas, across the country, students of color, students with disabilities, and LGBTQ students are disproportionately impacted by school-based arrests for the same behavior as their peers."