Discipline stats: What’s fair?

Black students are suspended, expelled and arrested at higher rates than whites, concludes a new report by the U.S. Education Department’s Office of Civil Rights. “The everyday educational experience for many students of color violates the principle of equity at the heart of the American promise,” Education Secretary Arne Duncan said.

What About the Kids Who Behave? asks Jason Riley in the Wall Street Journal. Though Duncan said the discipline statistics don’t prove discrimination, inevitably schools will be pressured to ease up on black kids who act up. That will be hard on their classmates, most of whom will be “students of color,” and their teachers.

The Obama administration’s sympathies are with the knuckleheads who are disrupting class, not with the kids who are trying to get an education. But is racial parity in disciplinary outcomes more important than school safety?

The report also found that high-minority high schools are half as likely to teach calculus as low-minority schools. That probably reflects fewer students who are prepared to take college-level math.

In addition, teachers in high-minority schools have less experience and therefore earn less. If these schools have more first- and second-year teachers — which I’d bet they do — that’s a real problem.

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  1. But if you look at holistic crime stats, you find the same situation. Indeed, if you look at eyewitness reports of offenders, you find the same trends.

    So, there are only 2 conclusions:

    a. A giant conspiracy within society to blame blacks for crimes
    b. Blacks exist within a violent subset of society.

    And remember, eyewitness reports are made also by blacks. That this is reflected in the schools, is not a surprise.

    My son’s girlfriend is teaching at a school that had 16 arrests in one week. One year there, and she’s applying for grad school. Inexperienced teachers, I wonder why???

  2. I teach in a district where it roughly breaks down 30% African American, 30% Hispanic, 30% Filipino and 8% Caucasian & 2% other. The majority of our suspensions are African American & then Hispanic. This year the emphasis has been on reducing suspensions and expulsions for our students of color.

    As a classroom teacher, most year I could count on one hand the number of white students I had in my classroom. When I wrote a referral for discipline issues, chances were that it was going to be a student of color. I also know that the student who caused major problems for me as a 6th grader also typically caused problems for their 7th and 8th grade teachers.

  3. Stacy in NJ says:

    Whites are disciplined, suspended, expelled at higher rates than Asians. Institutional racism? No. Cultural norms? Yes.

  4. And then there’s the fact that boys are disciplined at rates far higher than girls. It is certainly true that school is an environment that suits girls somewhat more than boys, but it certainly is not true that girls are let off the hook for offenses that boys are disciplined for.

  5. Discrimination is when one group gets disciplined more harshly for the same offense. If a boy gets a formal punishment while a girl gets a verbal warning for the same offense, then that’s discrimination. But if boys misbehave at a higher rate than girls, it is not discrimination when boys receive more total punishments.