Two studies allegedly find "[....Shocking Racial Disparities in the Overuse of Suspensions and Provide Proven Alternatives to School Discipline."
In Chicago from 2009 to 2010, they found an 18 percent Suspension Rate for all students (K-12). The suspension rate for all secondary school students was 27.5 percent. The number of students suspended one or more times was 74,125 and for secondary school students was 28,620.
Those numbers are "shocking" without even introducing the concept of race into the mix. How can a school function when a quarter of its students have been suspended at one time or another.
But the main point seems to be that (1) suspensions are overused and (2) that "disturbing racial disparities" have been discovered in that punitive suspensions fall heaviest on " race, gender, English learner and disability status."
From one report:
This unprecedented depth of research has found that well over two million students [nationally], or one in nine, were suspended during the 2009-2010 academic year. There were many other troubling findings, such as 36% of all Black male students with disabilities enrolled in middle and high schools in the data set were suspended at least once in 2009-2010. These findings are of serious concern given that research shows being suspended even once in ninth grade is associated with a 32% risk for dropping out, double that for those receiving no suspensions.
Yes, it is disturbing that a quarter of students have been suspended one or more times. But...
It's not news that large numbers of Chicago Public School students have been suspended. And the majority of students in Chicago Public Schools are black and Hispanics (i.e. "English learner). So, it is not surprising that they should be well represented among the suspended students.
Unfortunately, this plays a familiar tune, not so different from the charge that the schools CPS selected for closing are based on some kind of racist formula. One might just as well assume that the raw numbers indicate not racism, but the possibility that those students were suspended for other reasons: acting out, disrupting class, failure of effort, anti-social behavior or even violent inclinations.
Indeed, one report states: "As other studies demonstrate, the vast majority of suspensions are for minor infractions of school rules, such as disrupting class, tardiness, and dress code violations, rather than for serious violent or criminal behavior. Serious incidents are rare and result in expulsions, which are not covered by this report." The implication is obvious: These students should not have been suspended because they had committed "minor infractions." Never mind whether they are persistent and habitual. It's just my personal opinion, but the continued disruption of class is hardly a minor infraction.
Considering the amount of anti-social behavior that you can find in Chicago public schools, the figures in this study just confirm that teachers and administrators must constantly struggle with problems created by undisciplined or uncontrollable students. We can fight over the effectiveness of suspensions, but to suggest that racism is behind the suspensions serves no purpose.
Thus, we are presented with another social science study that assumes that by simply slicing and dicing ("disaggregating") available numbers we can come to useful and firm conclusions.
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