A new study in the budding academic field of spending valuable research dollars to prove stuff we already know has exposed the little-known fact that racism exists in the education sector.
Tulane University’s Education Research Alliance for New Orleans released a policy brief examining discipline records from Louisiana’s Department of Education and found startling disparities in the way black students were treated when compared with white children.
“Startling” must mean “not surprising at all” because CNN always talks about “startling new revelations in the Donald Trump investigation,” and it always turns out to be something about a campaign official meeting with Russians or someone in his administration having ties to white supremacists. I’m pretty sure that’s the correct definition of “startling.”
Anyway, Tulane found that Louisiana’s black students were about 1.75 times as likely to be suspended from school as the state’s white students, whether the infraction for which they were disciplined was violent or nonviolent.
You’re probably thinking: “Well, the black kids probably act out more or commit worse violations.”
First of all, you’re racist.
Second, according to the study, “this disparity is evident even after accounting for students’ prior discipline records, background characteristics, and school attended.” It was true when they examined incidents in different school districts. The inequality appeared when they looked at records within certain school districts. It didn’t matter whether the students were in low-income or high-income areas; the results were the same: Black students were routinely punished more often.
Not only did the black pupils receive harsher penalties, but they also received longer suspensions. The study examined fights between one black and one white student and discovered that black students received longer suspensions than their white counterparts.
“By looking at interracial fights and controlling for students’ other background characteristics, we tried to isolate cases in which it would be hard to attribute gaps to explanations other than discriminatory practices,” said study co-author Jon Valant of the Brookings Institution. “We see small but statistically significant gaps in how black and white students are punished.”
The data revealed that black students received 0.4 more days of suspension than their white peers for the same infractions. The disparity begins in kindergarten and lasts through every phase of public education, according to the researchers.
The research highlights the problem of the “school-to-prison pipeline,” proving that the problems of racial inequality in the criminal-justice system begin in the educational system. While the study was limited to Louisiana schools, the U.S. Department of Education reports that 18 percent of black boys and 10 percent of black girls received an out-of-school suspension in 2013-2014, compared with only 5 percent of white boys and 2 percent of white girls. Some would say that’s the definition of “white privilege.”
I think it’s just startling.
Read the full report here (pdf).