March 21, 2014

Oklahoma Schools Suspend Black Students at Higher Rates

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Oklahoma is one of 12 states in the nation that suspended both female and male black students at a higher rate than their white peers, according to a U.S. Department of Education report.

According to the data released Friday, about 20 percent of black male students received an out-of-school suspension in 2011-2012, compared with 7 percent of white male students.

For females, 13 percent of black students had an out of school suspension in 2011-2012 compared with 3 percent of white students.

Other states also suspending male and female black students at higher rates than white students are: Alabama, Arkansas, the District of Columbia, Indiana, Michigan, Missouri, Nebraska, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee and Wisconsin. findings indicate students of color are disproportionately affected by suspensions and zero-tolerance policies.

The report also includes district and school-by-school breakdowns for each state.

Students who are suspended are less likely to graduate and are more likely to repeat a grade, become suspended again, become involved in the juvenile justice system or repeat a grade, according to the U.S. Department of Education.

U.S. Secretary of Education Arney Duncan said the results show the United States still has work to do to provide equal opportunities to all students.

“This data collection shines a clear, unbiased light on places that are delivering on the promise of an equal education for every child and places where the largest gaps remain,” Duncan said in a written statement.

Nate Robson can be reached at nrobson@oklahomawatch.org

  • M. W. Cain

    What difference does color make? What should make a difference is if they are committing act that require discipline. Home structure is the key. Take a look at the percentage of these kids who have both parents in the picture and I am sure you will discover where the real problem lies! You can make statistics show what ever you want. So look at what really matters. Did the child need suspension because they were black or were they suspended because they do not have a family structure and discipline at home.

  • Dr. Phillip D. Lewis

    What difference does Race makes? It makes all the difference in the world! Teachers, Law Enforcement Officers, Universities and State-Federal Mental Health Institutions are a few of the largest service providers for all people in the US. From education, research, theory to practice and service provision it is essential to harness the facts of any public health concerns that may better prepare us to serve the public at large and decrease the negative consequences that comes along with the label of being at risk or a juvenile delinquent. Such reality is even further import because of those already disadvantaged groups like Black adolescents. Adolescent’s at risk is a serious public health concern for everyone. Again: Why does race matter? When we know the facts, we are able to respond more appropriately!

    Further, we know that Many social critics argue that today’s youth especially Black youth’s face more serious and critical risks than any previous generation since the civil rights movement. In fact, many parents may agree that their children are less prepared to deal with major life crisis then they were as adolescents. Most experts agree that violence in schools, deteriorating family structure, substance abuse, alarming media images, and gang activity put Black teens at a greater risk. Yes, I’d rather be solution focused on this matter, and the truth hurts about the reality of my kids future. Reality!In this way I can talk to them about the facts and strategies with my kids on how they do not have to be a negative statistic. I also believe that racism is very much alive in the U.S., and that many Whites are often the one’s reinforcing these no tolerance rules and suspensions, which are handed down by those individuals that may be bias toward Blacks and other minorities. This is really not much different than the sanctions that are just as disproportionate in minority confinement, and how sanctions are often greater for Blacks compared to Whites for the same crime. Your thoughts shape your vision! Of course race matters! You often see what you choose to see. “Our criminal justice system treats you better if you are rich, White, and guilty; rather than if you are poor, Black, and innocent.”

    Your in service,
    Dr. Phillip Lewis

  • Robert

    The article states, “Oklahoma is one of 12 states in the nation that suspended both female and male black students at a higher rate than their white peers, according to a U.S. Department of Education report.”
    Comment: I am puzzled by the statement by the DOE. The link in the article as well as link show that blacks are suspended more than whites in every state. http://ocrdata.ed.gov/Downloads/CRDC-School-Discipline-Snapshot.pdf

    Article: U.S. Secretary of Education Arney Duncan said the results show the United States still has work to do to provide equal opportunities to all students.
    Comment: It does not follow that the difference suspension rates for the different races indicates that the different races do not have equal opportunities. Let’s take an example in the world of sports to illustrate why Secretary Duncan is incorrect. The NBA has “78 percent black players, 17 percent white players….” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Race_and_ethnicity_in_the_NBA If we accept the thinking of Secretary Duncan, we would agree that the NBA does not provide equal opportunity for whites. But, as we know, the owners of the teams in the NBA are typically interested in hiring the best players whether they are black or white. Therefore, it is not a question of opportunity; it is a question of ability. And, of course, with a little effort, we can find numerous other examples in sports.