School Desks (Historic Bremen. 2016. CC BY 2.0)

The new data from the Education Department’s Civil Rights Data Collection (released on March 21, 2014) gives prominence to a troubling pattern of zero-tolerance school disciplines policies that unevenly impacts minority students also leading down to preschoolers.

“This data collection shines a clear, unbiased light on places that are delivering on the promise of an equal education for every child and places where the largest gaps remain,” said U.S. Department of Education Secretary Arne Duncan.

The data, collected from the 2011-2012 school year, represented nearly all of the nation’s public school children. It included data from all 97,000 of the nation’s public schools, representing 49 million students.

A few striking facts were raised from this data – the most disturbing of which is that black preschooler’s represented 18 percent of the preschool enrollment but also made up 48% of the preschool students who were suspended multiple times.

Even access to preschool was very limited this past school year, further contributing to this pattern of racial inequality. While most preschools only offered school for half the day, there were 40% of public school districts that did not even offer preschool at all.

Within the United States, approximately 1 million preschoolers were enrolled last year however, almost 5,000 of them were suspended at least once. There were 2,500 preschoolers who were suspended more than once. These findings raises attention because access to preschool for preschoolers is very critical as preschool is viewed as the critical building block in early childhood education.

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“This critical report shows that racial disparities in school discipline policies are not only well documented among older students, but actually begin during preschool. Every data point represents a life impacted and a future potentially diverted or derailed.” Attorney General Eric Holder said in response to the findings of this data.

The data also found that access to courses necessary for college was unequally distributed within high schools. While most of the Asian-American and white high school students attended high schools which offered the full range of math and science courses, fewer than half of American Indian and native-Alaskan high school students had access to them in their high schools. We can not ignore that black and Latino students were also deprived from being able to enroll in these necessary courses.

This report was very informative in providing detailed information on school data from the state, district, and school level. It reveals that harsh discipline policies has impacted mostly black and Hispanic students.

It is clear that the United States has a lot of work to do in order to meet the goal of providing opportunities for every student to succeed.


The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Chicago Monitor’s editorial policy.


2 COMMENTS

  1. This unequal treatment of minority students in discipline policies is part of a pattern of targeting schools in minority areas for privatization, closing, military academies, and less specialized classes like you point out. Thanks for doing this analysis on data that people ignore or manipulate to their own purposes.

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