Black students are almost four times as likely as white students to receive one or more out-of-school suspensions, new federal data released on Tuesday shows (pdf), underlining the grave disparity that still exists within the U.S. education system.
The 2013-2014 Civil Rights Data Collection survey looked at 16,758 school districts, encompassing 95,507 schools and 50,035,744 students. It touched on issues including school discipline, restraint and seclusion, early learning, college and career readiness, and chronic student absenteeism.
The results were telling.
Black K-12 students were recorded as being 3.8 times as likely as their white counterparts to receive at least one out-of-school suspension. Although about 6 percent of all K-12 students were handed at least one out-of-school suspension, the breakdown by race and gender was 18 percent for black boys, 10 percent for black girls, 5 percent for white boys and 2 percent for white girls.
Even preschoolers were subject to the bias, with black children from that group being 3.6 times as likely to receive one or more out-of-school suspensions as white preschool children.
According to the report, black boys made up 19 percent of male preschool enrollment but 45 percent of the preschool boys being suspended, while black girls represented 20 percent of female preschool enrollment but made up 54 percent of preschool girls getting suspended.
The study also found that black and Latino students have less access to high-level math and science courses: Thirty-three percent of high schools with high black and Latino student enrollment offered calculus, while 56 percent of high schools with low black and Latino enrollment offered the subject.
The study also noted the following:
- 48 percent of high schools with high black and Latino student enrollment offer physics, compared with 67 percent of high schools with low black and Latino student enrollment;
- 65 percent of high schools with high black and Latino student enrollment offer chemistry, compared with 78 percent of high schools with low black and Latino student enrollment; and
- 71 percent of high schools with high black and Latino student enrollment offer algebra II, compared with 84 percent of high schools with low black and Latino student enrollment.
U.S. Education Secretary John King told reporters that the findings show the United States’ “systemic failure” to educate all students equally.
“These data show that we still fall far short of that ideal,” he said, pointing out that students of color, students whose first language is not English and students who have disabilities are "not getting the same opportunities to learn," USA Today notes.
“When we deny some students access to a high-quality education, we all lose out in multiple ways,” King added.