Black People : School discipline harder on blacks

Discussion in 'Black People Open Forum' started by oldsoul, Sep 26, 2007.

  1. OldSoul

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    School discipline harder on blacks
    Analysis of federal data shows racial inequality in suspensions and expulsions nationwide
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    In the average New Jersey public school, African-American students are almost 60 times as likely as white students to be expelled for serious disciplinary infractions.
    In Minnesota, black students are suspended six times as often as whites.
    In Iowa, blacks make up just 5 percent of the statewide public school enrollment but account for 22 percent of the students who get suspended.
    Fifty years after federal troops escorted nine black students through the doors of an all-white high school in Little Rock, Ark., in a landmark school integration struggle, America's public schools remain as unequal as they have ever been when measured in terms of disciplinary sanctions such as suspensions and expulsions, according to little-noticed data collected by the U.S. Department of Education for the 2004-2005 school year.
    In every state but Idaho, a Tribune analysis of the data shows, black students are being suspended in numbers greater than would be expected from their proportion of the student population.
    In 21 states -- Illinois among them -- that disproportionality is so pronounced that the percentage of black suspensions is more than double their percentage of the student body. And on average across the nation, black students are suspended and expelled at nearly three times the rate of white students.
    No other ethnic group is disciplined at such a high rate, the federal data show. Hispanic students are suspended and expelled in almost direct proportion to their populations, while white and Asian students are disciplined far less. Yet black students are no more likely to misbehave than other students from the same social and economic environments, research has found.
    Some impoverished black children grow up in troubled neighborhoods and come from broken families, leaving them less equipped to conform to behavioral expectations in school. While such socioeconomic factors contribute to the disproportionate discipline rates, researchers say that poverty alone cannot explain the disparities. "There simply isn't any support for the notion that, given the same set of circumstances, African-American kids act out to a greater degree than other kids," said Russell Skiba, a professor of educational psychology at Indiana University whose research focuses on race and discipline issues in public schools.
    "In fact, the data indicate that African-American students are punished more severely for the same offense, so clearly something else is going on. We can call it structural inequity or we can call it institutional racism."
    Academic researchers have been quietly collecting evidence of such race-based disciplinary disparities for more than 25 years. Yet the phenomenon remains largely obscured from public view by the popular emphasis on "zero tolerance" crackdowns, which are supposed to deliver equally harsh punishments based on a student's infraction, not skin color. That's not what the data say is happening. Yet the federal Department of Education's Office of Civil Rights, which is charged with investigating allegations of discriminatory discipline policies in the nation's public schools, has opened just one such probe in the past three years. Officials declined requests to explain why.
     
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