Cutting suspensions also cuts school safety

January 4, 2019 | The News & Observer

Everyone agrees the statistics are disturbing: During the 2015-16 school year, black students were eight to 10 times more likely than whites to be suspended in the Wake, Durham and Chapel Hill-Carrboro school systems.

Disagreement arises concerning the causes. To people of good faith on the right, a host of factors — including family structure, childhood stressors, the legacy of slavery and Jim Crow and the failed social policies meant fix those problems — explain this disparity. While recognizing that racism may influence some student/teacher interactions, they believe it is a minor factor. Students are suspended because of their behavior, not their color.

Many on the left assert racism drives these disparities. They argue that teachers and administrators, infused with explicit and implicit bias, discriminate against black students — even in majority-minority schools led by African-Americans. President Obama’s first secretary of education, Arne Duncan, succinctly expressed this view when he said the suspension rates were “not caused by differences in children. It is adult behavior that needs to change.”

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