A new research report reveals that black students in southern states face expulsion rates draastically higher than their white counterparts — in some cases, much higher.
The study conducted by the University of Pennsylvania’s Center for the Study of Race & Equity in Education uses data from the Department of Education to uncover that 13 southern states are responsible for roughly half of all expulsions of black students and more than half of all suspensions. 56 percent of all girls suspended were black — but this number hides some truly alarming statistics. In Mississippi, for instance, black girls accounted for 80 percent of all female suspensions. Louisiana (74%) and Alabama (70%) were close behind.
In a New York Times article focused on the report, Professor Shaun Harper, one of the lead author’s, notes the sheer disparity in expulsion and suspension cannot be explained through behavior alone:
“This is at least partly attributed to people having these racist assumptions about black kids,” Mr. Harper said. “We argue that too little happens in schools of education to raise consciousness about that.”
One of the biggest dangers in schools excessive use of suspension and expulsion for black youth is that it actively feeds the school to prison pipeline — the system in which black and brown children are subject to harsh ‘zero-tolerance’ school policies and eventually fed into the juvenile or adult criminal justice systems. A pipeline which exists to a much smaller degree for more privileged white students.
The report provides a number of recommendations, including encouraging Black families and advocates to hold schools more accountable for their expulsion practices. It also pushes school systems and teachers to reevaluate discipline policies and offer more professional development educators and instructors.
You can read the full report here.