Disproportionate Treatment Of Black Kids

Today's big news is the release of data for CPS and the rest of the nation showing disproportionate treatment of African American students, as well as news that JCB supports/doesn't support private school vouchers (so confusing!):


Black students face tougher discipline in Chicago and the U.S. Sun Times:  African American students receive disproportionately harsher discipline than non-minorities in schools nationwide — and especially in Chicago, U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan said Monday.

Study: Discipline harsher on African-American students in Chicago Tribune: African-American students, who make up slightly less than half of those enrolled in Chicago Public Schools, face harsher discipline than their white and Latino classmates but have better access to quality education than minority students in other large, urban districts.

Civil Rights Data Show Retention Disparities EdWeek: He acknowledged that even the school district he led from 2001 to 2008—Chicago Public Schools—had some troubling inequities around student discipline uncovered by the new data.

Minority Students Get Arrested, Suspended More Than White Students Atlantic:  African-american students are suspended or "referred" to law enforcement by school officials far more often that white students, even with in the same school. The same study also showed that black students were more likely to be held back, particularly in earlier grades.


CPS chief backs federal dollars 'following' students to private schools Tribune: District spokeswoman later says Brizard doesn't support voucher program Chicago Public Schools chief Jean-Claude Brizard voiced support Monday for public dollars “following” students to private schools.

Emanuel spends scofflaw cash on cops, kids Tribune:  Mayor Rahm Emanuel today said he'll use an expected haul of $8.5 million from “deadbeats and cheaters” who owe City Hall money to pay for more police and summer programs for children.

Obama to speak at Joplin High graduation Tribune: President Barack Obama will speak at Joplin High School's commencement, a year after a tornado struck just after the ceremony, killing more than 160 people and destroying much of the city. The high school was among the thousands of homes and buildings...


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  • Where is the US DOE OCR report?

  • No, I don't want public money going to private schools or profiteers:

    "CPS chief backs federal dollars 'following' students to private schools /
    District spokeswoman later says Brizard doesn't support voucher program"

  • The "disproportionate treatment of African American students", exemplified by the "disproportionate" application of school discipline, pales in comparison to the "disproportionate treatment of African American students" in the provisioning of a calm and safe learning environment, and the "disproportionate" violent victimization of African American students. The recent movement to "get the numbers right" by "decriminalizing" provisions for acts of violence in school discipline codes, betrays the best interests of all students, but primarily African American student victims of violence. They are betrayed first by the failure of school districts to provide them with calm and safe learning environments, and then by school leaders and educators who rush to "save" violent offenders from the juvenile justice and criminal (adult) justice systems, and ignore the desperate needs of victims. The corrosive effects of violence in our schools will be eliminated when the progenitor of violent behavior -- victimization -- is moved to the top of the agenda.

  • CPS schools are very segregated, what do the number look like at a school with diversity? When you look at the race of principals, about 1/2 are African American. I know they can do a better job of reporting this data. Break down that data by school and compare to school populations. Also CPS has a big gang problem, what part of this is due to gang affiliation? They can slice and dice this data to provide more than a head line. Because I am telling Afican American Principals are not suspending kids without cause. But remember it not their decision when it comes to an arrest, the victim presses charges.

  • Headache 299
    From Rosalind Rossi’s piece in the sun times

    “Federal data indicated that nationally, minority students are often taught by lower-paid and less experienced teachers”
    Duncan said, “It is our collective duty to change that.”

    But wait a sec…isn’t it Arne who plugs Teach for America? So hasn’t Arne contributed to the findings of this study? Wasn’t it Arne who set the stage for the mass termination of veteran, ‘experienced’ teachers?

    And as far as those suspensions and disciplinary action data points are concerned, wasn’t it Arne who eliminated approximately 200 special education teachers and just tossed the kids in general ed rooms without service (this was in largely low income minority schools where complaints are usually ignored by the sun-times) and eliminated other vital school services to help decrease classroom disruptions.

    And didn’t a top cps official just admit that CPS drains resources from low-income schools over a span of ten years prior to turnaround?

    This all reads like the treadmill attempt to paint the individuals working within a community school as racist while ignoring and then allowing the larger institutionalized CPS racism slide.

  • Most principals, deans, security, and LSCs at predominantly black schools are they themselves black.

    My school is a 50/50 mix of black and latino students. The vast majority of discipline problems are with male black students. This has nothing to do with their DNA or culture and has everything to do with the socioeconomic conditions many struggle with. This is not a reflection of ignorant white staff members who are culturally insensitive either. Principal, AP, dean, and almost all security are black. Black teachers struggle with the same student issues and behavior as white and latino teachers. Usually we struggle with the same individuals. Whether teachers are black, white, or latino- few of us can relate to the extreme poverty, extreme dysfunction, and extreme violence many of our kids sadly deal with on a regular basis.

    There is nothing wrong with removing chronically disruptive and violent students through suspension when CPS provides no other viable options. I don't care what the color of the student is. If his family holds no sway over him, and he has no fear of the law the best we can do is remove him from the situation so the remaining 99% can learn in an environment free of violence, intimidation, and disruption.

  • In reply to district299reader:

    Dear district299reader.here here. I agree.

  • Well put D299.

    The question is why is the behavior so bad? Why is there an animated or violent response to conflict? Why is the disrespect so great not only to staff but other students?

  • I am disappointed with the choices the new Mayor is making in reguards to choosing new leadership for the schools. Didn't we try going outside before? How would he like it if he were rejected as Mayor because we, the voters, felt that someone from the outside could do a better job than he could? I don't think that he would like it. And as for the comment of calling chicagoans who chose to do not pay "doubled parking tickets" "dead beats", comments like that sure do make me want to vote for him again. All of these slaps in the faces of the people in a city that he claims to love will cost him his seat in city hall. What he should do as far as these principals are concerned is to look into the pool of his most concerned and dedicated teachers for leadership and he will hit gold like no other city ever will. Its $25,000 dollars that more than likely would some how find its way back into the professions that they love. All he need do is ask parents ask teachers, just ask he will be surprised with what he might find.

  • Not only is the harsh discipline disproportionate, we have to include it's equal partner. The disproportionate referals for special education of African American children boys more so than girls. It is fast becoming the cure all and the anwser to when we cannot teach children for whom the system has allowed to fall too far behind to catch up.

  • In reply to district299reader:

    It is true that black male students are given referrals more often for special education evaluations than are black female students. But on a national scale white males are more often referred for evaluations than are white females. Statistically CPS actually has had for years a higher referral rate based on the proportion of white students for learning disabilities than for all other racial groups.

    This odd statistical reality is based on the fact that a relatively high percentage of white students have good primary health care and their disabilities are identified earlier especially for those suspected of having moderate disabilities. Students with more severe disabilities are referred for early intervention services at closer to equal rates based on race. Inside of Chicago black males are far more frequently referred for emotional behavior disorders than are males of other races and this is consistent with national data.

    Given the intersection of poverty and disability due to the ghettoization into urban areas with public housing options of parents of children who themselves have disabilities and who are statistically more likely to have children with disabilities it is reasonable to conclude CPS may be actually under identifying minority students. In rural areas of Illinois we have white poverty pockets with very high percentages of special education referrals and there is a similar ghettoization effect on parents with disabilities. But given the poor outcomes for students identified in
    Chicago this under identification may not be the worst thing for some of these students.

    Rod Estvan

  • I agree with making principal choices from the excellent teachers and leaders that we have. I also agree that the best source for making these choices would be from recommendations from parents, teachers, and community representatives as well as local school council members. These are people who know where the jewels of the public schools system are buried. Just ask them I am sure they will tell you just who and where they are.

  • I'm disappointed with the mayor choosing all outsiders for leadership positions in Chicago too . The bad thing is none of them really know what is going on. Many who have spent their lives working here in the city's agencies feel it's a slap in the face. The city residents with credentials and experience deserve a chance. Maybe a new mayor will give them that chance. It doesn't look like this mayor will

  • I am a product of Chicago Public Schools and a teacher who is African American. While I have been out of school for some time, I think back to when I was in elementary school. My mind might be going foggy but I can't remember my friends and classmates getting suspended at the rate these children do because we didn't act like this nor did we show such blatant disrespect for adults. There is a shift in social responsibility and acceptable behavior in our young people that is going in the wrong way. When a 17 year old comes up to me and tells me he's gonna kick my ass should I write him up and suspend him or tell him to go back to his seat and chill out for a few?
    When they come in the classroom loud, profane, and out of control and then say and do some of the most outrageous things to us as teachers as well as their peers should we just let them be? Suspensions may be disproportional based on the findings of the study but you have to realize that something or somebody(s) have created this situation. They are angry, rude, lack self discipline, are unmotivated, and would prefer to bully everyone including the teachers and the police to show, as they say it, "We run this B****.
    I don't bully well and I also don't believe that suspending them is the answer as now they beg to get a ten day. I've come to realize that it is a new day with young people who we are losing by the seconds and we haven't found a way to stop the downward spiral.

    I wouldn't say it's discrimination I would just say it is what it is. The question is the behavior isn't getting any better and as we move towards more schools with higher levels of acceptable behavior one questions where are the other students going to wind up? We'll have schools full of the worst behaving students regardless of race and who in their right mind would want to be subjected to what they dish out everyday in the name of trying to educate them. We are definitely moving towards a have and have not society and this is worse than anything this country has ever seen in the past in terms of fair and equitable education.

  • In reply to district299reader:

    I wanted to respond to this as well as your comments here.

    "This has nothing to do with their DNA or culture and has everything to do with the socioeconomic conditions many struggle with."

    There is strong evidence that shows cultural bias (euro-centric/male) in standardized tests and therefore school curricula. It may not be overtly racist in how it's delivered, but there is systemic racism, delivered by brown people, that our kids have to endure.

    We all know that when kids are not engaged they act out. The topics in school offer limited representations of Black people, let alone young urban poor Black people, and they tend to be delivered by White females, or at least middle-class teachers. This indicates to me that there is a socio-economic and cultural divide. If you check out the work of Prudence Carter (Keepin' It Real), you'll see her study of brown, poor, urban high school kids, in New York found that they value education but reject schooling (what is being taught and how). They also internalize the low expectations of them by school staff and society.

    These kids don't see representations of people like themselves in the corporate world that our schools are trying to prepare them for. So they reject it as it rejects them.

    Also, media representations can feed into how kids see themselves and how the staff sees them as well. For example, staff expectations of Black males can be low due to teachers not understanding urban poverty as you said, and students adopting the renegade themes in Hip-Hop culture because it shows people like themselves in successful positions. Dominant societal norms reject this behavior (if it's black!). Young black males are constantly trying to hang on to their identity and prove their masculinity through conflict, conquest of women, rejection of being seen as academic (or white), or being soft (having feelings) ala Hip-Hop.

    To many urban brown kids in poverty school is a challenge to their identity.

  • In reply to Eric:

    cut through the educationese bs… the disproportionate treatment of black kids is proportional to the disproportionate misconduct of black kids –

    segregated low income black schools are in general out of control, and everybody knows it!… and when they are not out of control, they are on the brink of chaos…it has nothing to do with high or low expectation, test-bias, white and middle class eurocentric male teachers or cultural divide… it has everything to do with the Chicago black socioeconomic condition.

    And blaming white female teachers and accusing them of being culturally insensitive is also getting a bit old. They’re not exactly peace keeping in Iraq or Koran burning in Afghanistan. Just because it’s a black community doesn’t make it Darfur.

    And the black community is not always exactly receptive to white teachers; white teachers get their share of racial slurs and not just from the parents and students; – it is very common for some black teachers and administrators to express their own ‘cultural’ biases in subtle and not so subtle ways.

    Take a spin down Roosevelt Rd and see the flashing blue lights, the liquor marts, addicts, drug dealers and hookers… In fact, there are many people afraid to even drive through such neighborhoods…and I don’t see Rahm hanging around any of them, either.

    This city has, from the very top, been screwing black people out of housing, employment and city contracts for decades and decades.

    Year after year we see housing discrimination, employment discrimination, redlining, reverse redlining, the list goes on and on, and the latest round of CPS Board of Ed votes was just one more example of city hall approved poverty pimping…

    When kids are chronically disruptive, fighting, threatening, cursing, schools have little choice but to suspend… the neediest schools just don’t have the personnel for six or seven hours of ‘restorative justice’.

    Unless of course you’re a Noble Street, KIPP, AUSL or UNO Charter School:
    In that case you can not only detain black kids, but you can charge fees, suspend, and even expel black kids (well, transfer out) all with high praise from Duncan, Rahm, Brizard, the Tribune and Sun-Times editorial pages.

  • In reply to district299reader:


    Dial back your internet anonymity cajones. I'm on your side on most of these issues. No one is blaming white teachers, no one thinks this is Darfur. Check my previous post, I say brown folks can have bias as well. No one said middle-class eurocentric males were the problem etc.

    "cut through the educationese bs… the disproportionate treatment of black kids is proportional to the disproportionate misconduct of black kids –"

    Do you have actual facts on this? If you look at the report, black kids (>50% of CPS) make up 75% of suspensions. The US Dept. of Ed. is saying they are being punished more.

    Also, we have to think who makes the rules? At Noble you can get fined for not making eye contact, but on the streets, lets say Roosevelt Rd., that eye contact can get you killed. Cultural divide.

    Would you say that the disproportionate incarceration of blacks is because more blacks are bad people? Or what about the disproportionate pay of equally qualified blacks against their white counterparts? Are blacks just bad people/workers? No.

    Like you mentioned, "this city has been screwing people" concerning housing, employment, and I would include schools, which all play a role in creating a poor socioeconomic condition for blacks that can lead to kids acting out, harsh school discipline, and incarceration. Cultural divide.

    And for the record, I make that trip on public down Roosevelt everyday to work in K-town.

  • In reply to Eric:


    "It also found that African-American children were less likely to be exposed to high-level curriculums and experienced teachers."

  • In reply to Eric:

    Curriculum in ‘failing’ schools dictated by CPS. Experienced teachers are pushed out due to cost. TFA’s or other alternative teacher ‘certificates’ do their two or three year peace corps term and new teachers run like hell.

  • In reply to Eric:

    Maybe we are on the same page –CPS just sponsored yet another round of what looks to many like the same old Chicago style of City Hall sponsored racial discrimination - nearly every school was black, and nearly every study concludes that similar policy implementations have concluded in spikes in community violence and ultimately a widening of the racial achievement gap. CPS promotes a policy to correct a problem and predictably accelerates an existing one. As school are strategically bled of human resources needed to heal the negative effects of childhood poverty, theories about teacher personality, teacher quality, instructional strategy, cultural sensitivity, etc, quickly become the dominant dialogue and meaningful discourse about the policies that manufactured the problem are drowned by a tsunami of teacher ‘theories’ that quickly turns to teacher bashing and ultimately union crushing. A little time passes and as the shortcomings of these policies begin to gel, it is always the individual teachers who are working within the system that take the blame. In the case of this study, blacks disproportionally face tougher discipline than whites. In 2009, the Consortium on Chicago School Research published The Schools Teachers Leave: Teacher Mobility in Chicago Public School – one conclusion was that teachers disproportionately leave predominantly black schools because there are more fights, there are more threats because these just happen to be some of the effects of high concentrations of poverty.

    I imagine there still are a few idiots who believe that black males are ‘naturally’ prone to acts of violence, but most people, especially our public leaders, know better. So when any time, any time schools are closed and teachers are blamed and then fired, we should all know better than to toss around armchair education theory. When yet another study in a long history of similar studies comes along to shows that black males are disproportionately subject to harsher punishments, the solution should not be to cast blame on the teachers who are also victims of resource bleeding, but to quickly send the human resources necessary to speed the recovery. Violence in the black community is not the result of school leadership or teacher perception. It’s the result of the effects of sustained poverty caused by good old Chicago style backdoor wheeling and dealing and the blame should be put squarely where it belongs.

  • In reply to district299reader:

    I agree, and to be clear, I'm not blaming teachers. I blame the policies and policy makers that stunt teacher creativity and downplay their expertise.

    "It’s the result of the effects of sustained poverty caused by good old Chicago style backdoor wheeling and dealing and the blame should be put squarely where it belongs."

    It's a bit trickier than this. It's a sticky web that involves discrimination in employment, public housing, schooling, health care, food assistance, loans, policing, incarceration, etc.

  • In reply to district299reader:

    But a lot of black kids are successful at Noble (and are there black kids at UNO?). You seem to argue for high discipline standards, and then against.
    Noble isn't designed as a general purpose high school. It's designed for college prep for a portion of 8th graders who didn't get in a select high school. There is very much a choice between true college prep and doing what we can for the most disruptive youth. I don't believe there is a large school anywhere that does both well.
    I wish all black parents in the city had the choice of sending their sons to a school like Urban Prep. But we as a society have foolishly choosen to spend money on aircraft carriers and prisons rather than the schools they need. That's not Rahms or Duncan's fault. I didn't see you mention Obama.
    In reality this decade thousands more minority students in Chicago will graduate from excellent colleges and universities because of Noble. And at least some of these graduates will be black males who were terrors in middle school.
    We aren't anywhere good enough to fix city schools for everyone. Let's at least get the more compliant and motivated kids college ready.

  • In reply to Donn:

    Donn, I can agree with that if you can agree that these schools should stop being compared. You seem to be admitting that Noble takes the most motivated and most compliant students, so just stop saying the schools who take the unmotivated and noncompliant are "failing". Simple.

  • In reply to district299reader:

    It's been found that Noble counsels (and I would argue pushes) out kids who don't fit in. Pushing out undesirables
    (kids who may have behavior issues, special needs, traditionally the lowest test takers, etc.) does not make you a success.

    Urban Prep is currently at Low Academic standing according to CPS, the lowest level. In no way do I think test scores tell the whole story, but if you look at Urban Preps test scores they are way below CPS averages: http://www.cps.edu/Schools/Pages/school.aspx?id=400086

    My issue is that Obama, Duncan, Daley, Rahm, all ran with charters before they were properly evaluated. To this day charters as a whole are not performing better than what we already had, and we've given all of this public money to unproven charter companies.

  • In reply to Eric:

    But what if pushing out those students actually benefits the other students? What if concentrating academically oriented, behaviorally compliant students provides a benefit to these students? Is it right to take away that benefit or lessen the opportunity for other students to benefit from it?

  • In reply to Donn:

    A funny thing happened on the way to the quad

    Does anyone else realize that college is not for everyone?
    The board keeps pushing college prep because it is cheap
    to teach. While a fully equipped shop can cost well over
    $100.000. what does a English room cost?
    Then there is the snob factor. Some of the biggest
    homes in my town are owned by greasy people
    who learned how to fix a transmission ,or tune up a BMW.
    Have you ever met a poor plumber? Vocational education
    should be the answer to the drop out problem but it is ignored.
    Last year I served on a joint board union vocational education
    Committee. The board members were nice people but totally
    ignorant of what voc. ed requires to be successful.

  • In reply to rbusch:

    I don't think voc ed is the answer to the dropout problem, either. Reasons students drop out include pregnancy, being a general malcontent, prison/juvie, getting a job to help the family, and I'm sure there are others.

    I see voc ed as just being an important part of school regardless of whether it solves the dropout problem or not. The problem is it needs to be up to date and plugged into the job market in some way. So a student can go from CPS to the 2nd year of an apprentice ship program or something like that.

    But the malcontents should not be foisted into the voc ed program because no one else wants them. Voc Ed should be a desireable track all by itself.

  • District 299 reader.

    From my mouth it would be called racism, from your mouth
    it might lead to your being called a fictional character
    named Tom.Either way the truth hurts.What is almost
    universal in this society is the complete ignorance
    of conditions within the average general high School.

    To say a whole lot of kids don't give a fu_ _ would be
    an understatement..I know it, you know it.I I have
    heard people refer to this group as the Element.
    For 26 years i was at an all Black school. It was
    loud ,kids bounced off the walls, sometimes it was tragic.
    But there was a kind of electric charge about the place
    I never experienced in any other school.The entire administration
    was Black , so were the counselors. Every kid suspended
    was Black . But that school also practiced non judicial
    punishment.Every guilty party were given a choice, well
    males anyhow, After the punishment was applied that was it.
    One ferocious principal would get on stage the first day
    and invite anyone who wanted to cause trouble to come up
    on stage and get busy .No body ever took him up on his offer.
    We all meant business and there was little bull shit about
    the staff.

  • Rbush's account reminds me of a West-side high school, during the mid-seventies, where the School Officers really kept things in check. Their methods of operation would have landed them in the penitentiary in more recent times, but that giant school was a place where even smart, talented, African American students could thrive. The bad guys knew the boundaries of permissible behavior, and they knew the sure and swift consequences of misbehavior, which usually involved rolling the dice and bending over. Really bad guys did get locked-up, and suspended, without hesitation, and everyone knew that you couldn't get away with wrongdoing. That school worked and quality education actually happened.

  • In reply to Andur:

    I attended Robert A Waller High School from September 1967 up to June 1970 when I transferred out to Lake View for my senior year. Waller is now Lincoln Park HS. Waller then was a majority African American high school and the school was totally out of control. There were beatings and attacks all over the school. The school administration lost control of the situation completely and there were stabbings and shooting not far from the school.

    So I guess things got better in the mid-seventies, because they were a mess at the start of the seventies at least at Waller. By the way many of the African American students went to Waller because they lived in the projects, white students and Hispanic students were barred from transferring out unless they moved out of the intake area.

    Really many of us did not want to go to school and we dreaded leaving the school for fear of gang attacks once we were out of the building. I knew many students white, black, and Hispanic who dropped out based on fear, I was beaten and put in old Grant Hospital for four days myself.

    Rod Estvan

  • In reply to Rodestvan:

    Dear rodesvan.

    I guess you have been there yourself.

  • dear Andur

    West side South side sounds like you have been there.
    But for younger people perhaps an explanation is in order.
    Today bending over has a negative sexual connotation
    let me explain the concept..
    Say you are a freshman who decides to risk the lunch
    money your mama gave you on a friendly game of dice
    in the washroom. Before you loose it all Mr Jones barges in and
    corrals the whole lot into the discipline office you go.
    There you are given the kings hard bargain.Suspension,
    or licks.I cannot remember any male who chose suspension.
    Licks were a right of passage for a lot of kids.You rolled the
    dice for real whatever you rolled determined the number of licks
    you received.There was absolutely no shame or denigration
    associated with this.After the licks that was it , no call home,
    no suspension.The people swinging the prayer stick kept the lid
    on for years.

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