Tuesday, March 6, 2012
Black students, especially boys, face much harsher discipline in public schools than other students
Although black students made up only 18% of those enrolled in the schools sampled, they accounted for 35% of those suspended once, 46% of those suspended more than once and 39% of all expulsions. One in five black boys and more than one in 10 black girls received an out-of-school suspension. Over all, black students were three and a half times as likely to be suspended or expelled than their white peers. And in districts that reported expulsions under zero-tolerance policies, Hispanic and black students represent 45% of the student body, but 56% of those expelled under such policies. According to the schools’ reports, over 70% of the students involved in school-related arrests or referred to law enforcement were Hispanic or black. Black and Hispanic students — particularly those with disabilities — are also disproportionately subject to seclusion or restraints. Students with disabilities make up 12% of the student body, but 70% of those subject to physical restraints. Black students with disabilities constituted 21% of the total, but 44% of those with disabilities subject to mechanical restraints, like being strapped down. And while Hispanics made up 21% of the students without disabilities, they accounted for 42% of those without disabilities who were placed in seclusion. While the disciplinary data was probably the most startling, the data showed a wide range of other racial and ethnic disparities. For while 55% of the high schools with low black and Hispanic enrollment offered calculus, only 29% of the high-minority high schools did so — and even in schools offering calculus, Hispanics made up 20% of the student body but only 10% of those enrolled in calculus. And while black and Hispanic students made up 44% of the students in the survey, they were only 26% of the students in gifted and talented programs. Many of the nation’s largest districts had very different disciplinary rates for students of different races. In Los Angeles, for example, black students made up 9% of those enrolled, but 26% of those suspended; in Chicago, they made up 45% of the students, but 76% of the suspensions.