Oakland’s school district has reduced the number of suspensions of black students in the last three years, but they are still being removed from the classroom at a much higher rate than their white peers.
The findings come courtesy of a yearly report to the civil rights office of the U.S. Department of Education.
In 2012, the school district promised to voluntarily reduce suspensions of African-American students after the office opened an investigation into whether they were disciplined more frequently and harshly than white students.The suspension rate for African-American boys and girls dropped from 14 percent to 10 percent between the 2011-12 and 2013-14 school years, according to school district data that will be presented at a school board meeting Wednesday. The rate for African-American boys dropped from 16.7 percent to 12.7 percent in the same period.
“We’ve done a lot of work in terms of transforming school culture from punitive discipline to restorative practices,” said Jean Wing, the district’s executive director of research, assessment and data. “That’s really been the cornerstone of reducing those numbers.”
Those restorative practices mean looking deeper into why a student is misbehaving and trying to solve the problem instead of just kicking them out of school for a day.
The disparity in suspensions between black students and white students still is huge. Last school year, 10 percent of all black students were suspended for at least one day. Just 1.1 percent of white students were suspended.
But the disparity in suspensions between African-American and white kids still is huge.
While we can agree that the decline is a step in the right direction, there is still work to be done when it comes to creating a just environment for our youth.
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