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Smith-Evans, in Joint Op-ed Piece in USA Today, Confronts Racial Bias in School Discipline

Monday, December 22, 2014

In a USA Today column, LDF Interim Director of the Education Practice Leticia Smith-Evans and Russell Skiba argue school disicpline should be included in the topical discussion of racial bias and stereotypes in schools: 

Race debate should include school discipline

In wake of Garner and Brown, discussion should also focus on racial bias in schools.

 

The deaths of Michael Brown and Eric Garner have prompted Americans once again to debate the impact of stereotypes and racial bias in our country. Discussions have ranged from the historical roots of racism to police brutality, but one element has been missing: our failure to confront the role of stereotypes and race in driving discriminatory discipline in our schools.

According to the latest federal data, black students are suspended and expelled at a rate three-and-a-half times greater than white students. On average, 5% of white students are suspended compared to 16% of black students. Black girls are suspended at a higher rate (12%) than girls of any other race. And even among the youngest children, 48% of preschool students who have received more than one suspension are black even though blacks make up just 18% of preschool enrollment.

The data also consistently tell us that differences in punishment for black students are not due to poverty or to their misbehaving at higher rates. Indeed, black students are punished more harshly for the same offense as their white peers, particularly for subjective offenses such as noncompliance or disrespect.

Click here to read the full op-ed in the USA Today.