Urgent Need to Address Racial Disparities in School Discipline

Marion Herbert's picture
Friday, March 9, 2012

Racial disparities in school discipline – including suspensions, expulsions and arrests – remain alarmingly high in districts and states across the country.

This is according to Sec. of Education Arne Duncan, who announced the results of the latest Civil Rights Data Collection (CRDC) on Tuesday (March 6).

The CRDC is a national survey of 72,000 schools. Key findings show:

African-American students are more than three times as likely to be suspended as their white peers.

Over 70 percent of students involved in school-related arrests or referred to law enforcement are Black or Latino.

Students with disabilities are suspended at a rate twice that of students without disabilities.

The data confirms what many civil rights and education advocates have feared. Stark racial disparities across various indicators are hampering educational access and opportunity.

While it applauded U.S. Department of Education on the release of the survey, the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF) noted its deep alarm about the data.

The data collection for the 2009-10 school year reflects an expanded set of information, including factors such as school-based arrests, referrals to law enforcement and students receiving multiple suspensions. LDF and other civil rights and education advocates have urged inclusion of the reporting categories. They have also asked the Department of Education to collect the data annually from all schools, including all charter schools that receive federal funds.

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