In a disturbing trend, the Washington Post is reporting that black students in the D.C. area are suspended and expelled two to five times as often as white students. And the bias reportedly can be seen in Maryland and Virginia suburbs and in inner-city Washington.
The Washington Post reports:
An analysis by The Washington Post shows the phenomenon both in the suburbs and in the city, from the far reaches of Southern Maryland to the subdivisions of Fairfax, Prince George’s and Montgomery counties.
Last year, for example, one in seven black students in St. Mary’s County were suspended from school, compared with one in 20 white students. In Alexandria, black students were nearly six times as likely to be suspended as their white peers.
In Fairfax, where the suicide in January of a white high school football player who had been suspended brought an outcry for change, African American students were four times as likely that year to be suspended as white students, and Hispanic students were twice as likely.
The problems extend beyond the Washington area to school districts across the country and are among a host of concerns about school discipline that sparked a joint effort by the U.S. Justice and Education departments in July to look into reforms.
Experts say disparities appear to have complex causes. A disproportionate number of black students live below the poverty line or with a single parent, factors that affect disciplinary patterns. But experts say those factors do not fully explain racial differences in suspensions. Other contributing factors could include unintended bias, unequal access to highly effective teachers and differences in school leadership styles.
This is incredibly disturbing news, and a lot of issues need to be addressed. A good place to start is for administrators and teachers to develop better sensitivities toward African-American children, and for parents to impart better discipline at home. The current state of affairs is just setting children up for failure.