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African-American Students More Likely to Be Suspended Than White Students, study says

By Jeffrey Hess | Published 13 May 2013 08:51pm | comments

A new study is showing that African-American students are up to three times more likely to be suspended from school compared to white students.


The gap between white and black students has been growing over time.


A black student in Mississippi has a one in four chance of being suspended from school each year, according to a new study from the University of California Los Angeles.


Study author Daniel Losen says unconscious racial bias and suspending students for minor infractions are contributing to the divide.


"Many schools have adopted this very harsh, punitive policy thinking 'we have got to kick out the quote-unquote bad kids so the good kids can learn'. A state wide study of Indiana found that principals that adopted that philosophy actually had lower achievement scores," Losen said.


The use of out of school suspension has exploded in the last thirty years.


The odds of a black student being suspended have doubled since a similar study was conducted in the early 1970, while the rate of suspension for white students remains largely unchanged.


Losen says out of school suspension hurt the students that need the most assistance.


"Its not effective for any kid. It is not effect for black kids, white kids, or kids with disability. It is not educationally sound in most cases to be pushing kids out of school with no guarantee of adult supervision,' losen said.


This is a national study, but similar studies in Mississippi have found the same racial divide.


The Mississippi ACLU calls the increase, the 'school to prison pipeline'.


Executive Director Jennifer Riley-Collins says  there is clear racial bias in school discipline in the state.


"There is no evidence that children of color misbehave to a greater degree than white students. However, they tend to be more severely punished," Riley-Collins said.


In some cases the disparity is even to attract the attention of the federal government.


Last year, the Department of Justice sued Meridian Public Schools over their policies that more harshly punished black students.





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