With the Obama administration focused on reducing the number of suspensions, expulsions and arrests in public schools, a new analysis of federal data identifies districts in 13 Southern states where black students are suspended or expelled at rates overwhelmingly higher than white children.
The analysis, which will be formally released Tuesday by the Graduate School of Education at the University of Pennsylvania, focused on states where more than half of all the suspensions and expulsions of black students nationwide occurred. While black students represented just under a quarter of public school students in these states, they made up nearly half of all suspensions and expulsions.
In some districts, the gaps were even more striking: in 132 Southern school districts, for example, black students were suspended at rates five times more than their representation in the student population.
In recent years, civil rights groups such as the Advancement Project and legal advocacy organizations including the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund Inc. and Texas Appleseed have focused on reducing arrests and other severe disciplinary actions in schools.
Last year, the Obama administration issued guidelines advising schools to create more positive climates, set clear expectations and consequences for students, and ensure equity in discipline.
Still, “I am actually shocked that there is not more outrage,” said Shaun R. Harper, associate professor of education at the University of Pennsylvania, executive director of the Center for the Study of Race and Equity in Education, and co-author of the analysis.
Among the other findings in the analysis were that in 181 school districts where black students represented just under 60% of enrollment on average, all of the students expelled during 2011–12 were black. Within the 13 states, Louisiana, and Mississippi, expelled the highest proportion of black students.
Black students were suspended or expelled at rates higher than their representation in the student body in every one of the 13 states analyzed.
Read more at the New York Times.