Black male students receive most school discipline

Black male students receive most school discipline

(Calif.) Black male students in pre-school through third grade are five-and-a-half times more likely to be suspended from class than their peers, according to a new study of punishment in California schools.

Overall, black males are nearly 3.5 times more likely to receive a suspension from school administrators than other subgroups based on data collected in the 2016-17 school year, researchers from the University of California, Los Angeles and San Diego State University reported Tuesday.

“From a very young age, far too many black boys and young men are being told, in effect, to get out, and are excluded from the school and classroom, Professor Tyrone Howard, the director of the Black Male Institute at UCLA, said in a statement. “It’s an unfair practice with serious consequences for learning and achievement and future success, and it needs to stop.”

There are strong links between students who experience school discipline and struggles later in life. Data clearly slows that students that have been suspended are far more likely to drop out and less likely to attend college.

A landmark report from the U.S. Department of Education in 2010 showed black students nationally were 31 percent more likely to be disciplined for the same discretionary violation as white students. At the time, the department said more than three million students were suspended annually.

Since then, many school districts and many state Legislatures have sought to address the issue by putting restrictions on the use of punishment by school managers.

California lawmakers in 2015, for instance, put limits on the use of suspension for “willful defiance,” a category that was disproportionately used to discipline black students, according to the California Department of Education.

Although state schools chief Tom Torlakson has hailed a dramatic improvement in suspensions and expulsions by California schools since 2011-12, the new UCLA/San Diego State report suggests there is still more work to be done:

  • Black students account for just over 5 percent of the state’s total K-12 enrollment but received nearly 18 percent of all suspensions last year. Male black students received nearly three-quarters of all suspensions.
  • The highest total suspensions occurred in large urban counties including Los Angeles County, Sacramento County, San Bernardino County, Riverside County, and Contra Costa County. These five counties alone account for 61 percent of Black male suspensions.
  • The highest suspension rates for Black males occur in rural counties that have smaller Black male enrollments. In 2016-17, Glenn County led the state in Black male suspensions at 42.9 percent. Other Counties with high suspension rates included Amador County, Colusa County, Del Norte County and Tehama County.
  • San Joaquin County has especially high suspension patterns. In the past five years, they have reported suspension rates at 20 percent or above. Four counties have reported similarly high suspension patterns across the past four of five years, they include: Modoc County, Butte County, Merced County and Yuba County.
  • There are 10 school districts in the state with suspension rates above 30 percent. Of these, the highest suspension rates are reported at Bayshore Elementary (San Mateo County, at 50 percent), Oroville Union High (Butte County, at 45 percent), and the California School for the Deaf-Fremont (Alameda County, at 44 percent).

“This analysis makes clear that black boys and young men are significantly over represented in exclusionary discipline practices in California’s schools,” says Luke Wood, a professor of education at San Diego State and co-author of the report.

“They are unfairly singled out for punishment, and receive harsher punishment, placing them at greater risk of dropping out, making them less likely to attend college, and opening the door to pathways into the criminal justice system,” he said in a statement.

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