Two reports released on Monday contain more data — and more bad news — about the racial disparities in punitive school discipline measures that many believe are just the first stop on the "school-to-prison pipeline," the Huffington Post reports.
According to the Center for Civil Rights Remedies at the UCLA Civil Rights Project, 24 percent of black students were suspended at least once in the 2009-2010 school year, compared with 7.1 percent of white students. Worse, experts say that poor and African-American students are likely to receive harsher penalties. The effects of the disparities are also believed to extend beyond school discipline and actually fuel the academic achievement gap. From the Huffington Post:
For years, education advocates have highlighted the dire importance of closing the achievement gap of academic performance between students of different ethnic and socioeconomic groups. Now, another group of advocates is drawing attention to the discipline gap of unequal punishments to different groups of students.
The Center for Civil Rights Remedies at the University of California, Los Angeles Civil Rights Project, released two reports on Monday that show the increasing gap between suspension rates of black and white students. One million — or one in nine — middle school and high school students were suspended in 2009-2010, including 24 percent of black students and 7.1 percent of white students.
Most of the suspensions came not in response to violent behavior, but for minor infractions such as dress code violations or lateness. The research also found that suspensions increase the likelihood kids will drop out of school and commit crimes.
School districts that suspend students are hurting themselves, said Damon Hewitt, the director of education practice for the NAACP's Legal Defense Fund. "You can't close achievement gaps if you have a discipline gap at the same time," he said.
Read more at the Huffington Post.