Suspensionand Expulsion Rates Among the High School Students
Comparison of graduation rates of the white majorities and the black
How race affects the suspension and expulsion rates of students
How suspension and expulsion translates to the high incarceration rates among the minority groups
Nehisi views on problem of race in America
Disparities in the method of application of disciplinary actions
The school-prison pipeline
Involvement of police officers in the school
Disproportionate arrests made by the law enforcement officers between the whites and the black students
Possible Reasonsfor Suspension and Expulsion of the Black Students
Higher rates of misbehavior
Need to improve academic performance of the school
The problem of lack of cultural diversity awareness by teachers and school administrator
Summarize racial segregation in schools as the underlying cause of higher suspensions and expulsion rates among the black students.
Points the association between suspensions and incarceration rates
The overall rate of graduation in the United States in the year 2013was 79%. Notably, the graduation rate for the white students washigher (81%) compared to the African-American (15.9%) (Howard 13).The data is frustrating considering efforts by the states and localgovernment to increase education levels among the black population bygiving scholarships and bursaries . However, for one to make sense ofthese statistics, digging deeper into the challenges facing theAfrican-American student would be essential (Lineburg and Gearheart86). The paper will discuss school suspension and expulsion rates forblacks as compared to the white classmates.
The problem ofracial discrimination in America has a historical background. Forexample, the segregation laws gave white students access to betterschool and quality of education. The blacks had to do with the fewand crowded public school whose quality of teaching was ghastly poor.Judgments issued by the Supreme Court in landmark rulings such asBrown v Topeka Education Board, Kansas helped to promote integrationin public schools and open access to education for the black child(Siegel and Brandon 57).  The whole purpose of the integrationwas to promote equality in the America education system. However,with the gaps between the whites graduating from high school, collegeand university compared to the youths of color, the struggle hasbarely been won (Lineburg and Gearheart 89).
A study shows thegrowth in the graduation rate among the minority groups as outpacingthat of the whites. However, the majority of the beneficiaries arethe Hispanics and the Natives. The levels remain lower among theblack students (Thomas and LeShawndra 55).
Data from aneducation survey across the country shows, the number of the studentswho were enrolled in public schools was 49 million. The blackstudents contributed a partly 13% to this figure (6.37 million). Thesame year, the number of out of school suspensions was estimated at3.45 million (Thomas and LeShawndra 56). Close to three quarters(72%) of the suspended students were African Americans, that numberis about 2.4 million. Notably, the number of students expelled fromschool in the period under review was 130,000. Again, the blackstudent took the largest burden of this figure (85%) the actualnumber is 110,500. The combined number of the suspended and theexpelled for the black students is 2.51 million. The effect on thetotal enrollment in the school for black students is a massive dropof 37% in the total enrolment number of 6.37 million (Lineburg andGearheart 92).
A report Civilrights group in 2012 showed students of color were targeted withharsher school discipline compared to the whites. The report notedthat the punitive measures taken against the African Americanstudents do not only affect their abilities to learn but also putthem on the path towards incarceration (Siegel and Brandon 59). The report painted a gleaming future for the students dreaming for abetter life, away from jail, and street gangs. Furthermore, thereport noted covert racial segregation in school has led to the risein incarceration rates for the black children. The report furthernoted that, the severe disciplinary actions taken by the schooldistricts would only worsen the situation
Civil rights groupsobserved that African American youths constituted 20% (2/5) of thechildren held in prison. A worrying trend and an indicator thatefforts should be taken to ensure the children are helped to finishtheir education and contribute positively to the society. Notably,the rights group observed the current school disciplinary policiesare designed to trap disproportionately, a large number of the youthof the color from school to prison. The view of the human rightsactivists speaks to the concerns of Coates about the abuse of theblack body (Te-Nehisi 7). Primary, initiatives such as No Child leftbehind helped increase the overall school enrolment and thegraduation rates but failed to address the particular challengesfaced by a black student. Coates, in his book, notes that the speechgiven by the political leaders are full of platitudes and no concretesteps on how to ensure more equality and fairness in the society. Inthe end, the black child has to struggle and suffer more to get toachieve their dreams. It is a stark contrast to a white kid whoseprivileges in life are guaranteed thanks to the color of the skin(Thomas and LeShawndra 59).
The data collectednationwide indicate that unlike the white students, the black studentwas more likely (three times) to face suspension or expulsion fromthe school. Furthermore, African-American students constitute closeto 50% of the students who have been suspended more than once.Importantly, the report said, in 2010, black students represented 39%of the total number of expulsions from schools (Morris 89). Oneargument that was used to explain the vast disparities was that theblacks had higher rates of misbehavior compared to their whitecounterparts. However, the study showed, for the same misconduct,black student was more likely to be given severe punishment than thewhite was. Therefore, the findings dispute the notion about higherrates of misbehavior in the black students and prove covert racialdiscrimination exists in the school (Howard 15).
According toresults of a survey by U.S. Department of Justice, the suspended orexpelled black students are 2.9 times more likely to end up in prison(2012 Para.3). Furthermore, the number of suspensions increases thechance of the child being involved with the juvenile justice system.The survey established that, during the six years in school, theblack child is eleven times likely to be involved in the youthjustice system and later the prison. On the other hand, the chancesof the white students` involvement with the Juvenile Justice systemwere as low as 1.05 (Siegel and Brandon 63).
The report notedthat schools had taken dramatic steps to increase the severity ofpunishment. For example, the police officers patrol the schoolhallway, cafes and so on. An infraction among students that wouldotherwise only warrant a call to the principal`s office could nowlead to an arrest. Consequently, the child may end up serving a termin juvenile jails. The report noted that schools that had policeofficers patrol their compounds had a higher rate of arrest fordisorderly behaviors (500%) compared to the schools without. Theparticipation of the law enforcement personnel in the school issuspicious. Notably, more than two-thirds (70%) of the students whoare arrested are African American (See 77). The report concluded thatthe harsh punishment taken by the school, arrests, and expulsionincreases the probability of the involvement of the black child inthe juvenile justice system.
Another majorconcern raised by the report is the long-term impacts ofincarceration of black youths on the African American communities.Particularly, the report notes there are already 1.34 millionincarcerated African Americans. Worryingly, the current systemadopted by the schools ensures this number will keep soaring insteadof taking it down. Notably, the incarcerated youths are denied theirlegal rights including the freedom of education, employment, housing,voting among many other civil rights. The significance of this iscontinued poverty in the black communities as they lose the newgenerations to the prison (Thomas and LeShawndra 61).
The report alsoobserves it is not all, dull and gloom as some states are alreadydeveloping legislations to curb the racial disparities. For example,California and Massachusetts have debated laws that will guardagainst police arrests of the students from minority groups. It isencouraging to note, reforms in Georgia have reduced juvenilereferrals for the black youths by 47% (Morris 91). Furthermore,alternative such as Supportive Schools Discipline initiative aimed atexploring other means of punishment point to a step in the rightdirection.
The challengefacing the policy makers is establishing the reasons why theAfrican-American youths get higher rates of suspension and expulsionfrom the school compared to the whites. Stakeholders in the sectoraffirm finding the causes is not an easy task (See 78). One line ofargument that has been found to be flawed regards the behaviors ofthe black child. Some people suggest high levels of misbehaviorsamong the black students were to blame for the high suspension rates.However, studies have severally established that there is nosignificant difference in misconduct between the white and the blackchildren. The civil rights group pins the problem to race relationsin school. Notably, the activists point to the better science andmath programs offered to the white students. Therefore, the educationsystem is designed to disfavor the black child, that for him or herto get to the level of a white child, they have to put twice theefforts (Siegel and Brandon 66).
Another interestingperspective on the problem concerns the pressure on theadministrators to improve the school performance. The observationhere is that as the teachers are urged to improve the classroomperformance, they may overreact to the cases of indiscipline. Inaddition, the school administrators who are pressured to improve theoverall academic performance of the school may gravitate towardssuspending students with little tests grade (Howard 16). In manyregards, the white students outperform the black on test gradescores. Therefore, the school administrators may just be trying toimprove the overall school performance by eliminating students withlow grades. Typically, the Hispanics and the blacks becomes target ofthe push for better school grades.
The question ofcultural difference has also been raised as the reason for highsuspension rates for the black students. The African-Americanstudent is considered to adopt a defiant attitude. In the face of themany obstacles placed in the path of the black child, perhapsdefiance is a good thing. Coates, in his book, urges his son to bedefiant of the powers that seek to destroy him and his future becauseof the color of his skin. However, in the school setting, defiancemay mean indiscipline and insubordination (See 79). Consequently, thechild may be suspended or expelled from the school. The solution inthis argument lies in the promotion of cultural infusion andintegration in the schools.
Another approachwould be to make the teachers aware of the cultural differences inthe schools. Typically, the teacher and administrators should beaware of the cultural differences within the school and know how todeal with the diversity. In Connecticut, such challenges are beingtackled by training teachers on the cultural attitudes of theminority students towards the authority. The purpose is to promotecultural diversity awareness in the school setting. Furthermore, theprogram aims at reducing incidences of students being punished fromsituations of cultural misunderstandings (Morris 93).
The suggestion thatthe high rates of suspension and expulsion relate to the incomelevels of the families have been found to be flawed. Surveys show nosignificant difference in the suspension and expulsion rates in theminorities living the affluent suburban and those from low-incomeneighborhoods. Typically, the suspension rates for the minorities inall districts and regions remain the same. The data supports anassertion made by Nehisi, concerning the death of his friend PrinceJones. Nehisi observes that despite Jones being from a well to dofamily, he was shot dead by the police (See 82). Therefore, not evenmoney can stop the destruction of the black body. The sameobservation here, the level of income is not a factor in determiningthe suspension or expulsion from the school.
According toCoates, many odds are placed against the success of a black child(Coates 7). Notably, the majority of the people incarcerated in theUnited States are blacks. Therefore, Coates claim might actually holdsome truth in the place of the black child in the America society.The law and system favor the white kid as compared to the black one.The reality is racial discrimination in America has not ended.Therefore, one reason why the black child will not succeed is theinequity in the distribution of opportunities. The settings of theblack child are that they always have to try twice harder to succeedin a society that has a heritage of killing their dream (Ta-Nehisi11). Therefore, the data on low graduation rates among the blackstudents supports the claims made by Coates.
The cost of thesuspension on the academic achievement of the student is huge. Forexample, the teacher succeeds in improving and maintaining the classdiscipline. However, the gap in performance between the suspendedstudent and the rest is huge. The expectations of the teacher on thestudent reduce the number of suspensions. Notably, the student feelsless challenged and become disinterested in improving the grades(Morris 96). The suspended student may not graduate from high schoolor college. Therefore, the dream of employment and leading a betterlife in future are quashed. The overall impact is that poverty levelsamong the minority groups will remain higher as compared to thewhite.
In conclusion, theblack child faces a different set of challenges in their schoolcompared to the whites. The child is confronted with covert racialdiscrimination perpetuated by the teachers, school administrator andthe white majority. Consequently, they get severest of the punishmenton fairly small disciplinary matters. The black student is denied anequal chance to succeed like by suspensions and expulsions.Furthermore, a connection has been shown between the rates ofsuspension and incarceration. The high number of suspensions andexpulsions from the school of the minorities groups translates totheir scores in the jails.
Howard, Tyrone C. Black Male (d): Peril and Promise in theEducation of African American Males. New York London: TeachersCollege Press, Teacher`s College, Columbia University, 2014.Print.12-18
Lineburg, Mark & Gearheart, Rex. Educating Students inPoverty: Effective Practices for Leadership and Teaching. NewYork: Routledge, 2013. Print. 85-91
Morris, Monique W. Pushout: The Criminalization of BlackGirls in Schools. New York: The New Press, 2015. Print. 88-97
See, Letha A. Human Behavior in the Social Environment from anAfrican-American Perspective: Second Edition. NewYork: Routledge, 2013. Print. 77-82
Siegel, Larry J, and Brandon Welsh. Juvenile Delinquency: TheCore. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth, 2014. Print.55-67
Ta-Nehisi, Coates. Between the world and me. TextPublishing, 2015. 4-15
Thomas, Yonette F, and LeShawndra Price. Drug UseTrajectories among Minority Youth. Dordrecht: Springer, 2016.Print. 55-62
U.S. Department of Education, Office of Civil Rights. New Datafrom U.S. Department of Education Highlights Educational InequitiesAround Teacher Experience, Discipline and High School Rigor.(2012). Retrieved from:https://www.ed.gov/news/press-releases/new-data-us-department-education-highlights-educational-inequities-around-teache
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