The Center for Civil Rights Remedies at the University of California, Los Angeles Civil Rights Project has released a set of reports that shine a light on the distressing discipline gap in America’s schools.
Among its findings: One million (or 1 in 9) middle and high school students were suspended in the 2009-10 academic year; 24 percent of black students and just 7.1 percent of white students.
Most of these suspensions were the result of nonviolent offenses like lateness or dress code violations.
These suspended students are more likely to drop out of school.
School districts that suspend students are hurting themselves, said Damon Hewitt, the director of education practice for the NAACP’s Legal Defense Fund. “You can’t close achievement gaps if you have a discipline gap at the same time,” he said.
Suspensions as a discipline tool have skyrocketed over the last few decades, said Dan Losen, a UCLA professor who authored the report. In the 1970s, he said Monday, 12 percent of all African American students were suspended out of school at least once, as were 6 percent of white students. In 2009-2010, the African American statistic had doubled to 24 percent, while the number of white students suspended increased by one percentage point.
The report found that one in three black middle school males were suspended once or more during the school year. The numbers were worse for racial minorities with disabilities: 36 percent of black students with disabilities in secondary school were suspended at least once.
The study also looked at “hotspots,” schools that suspended a quarter or more of their students. Chicago topped the list, followed by Memphis, Clark County, Nevada, Los Angeles, and Houston.
The report suggests schools find alternative punishments for students that don’t take them away from class or discourage them from attending school.
Thoughts on the results of this report?
What are some disciplinary alternatives to suspensions?
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