D.C.-Area Black Students Suspended More than White Students

African American students are suspended at much higher rates than their white peers throughout the D.C.-metro area, according to a Washington Post analysis. Why the difference? Although poverty may play a role, there may be some unintended bias against black students. Also, black students may be attending schools with more punitive leadership styles.

Such disparities in school discipline have come under the microscope by the U.S. Justice and Education departments. This summer, they launched an initiative to address the “school-to-prison pipeline,” a set of school policies that can lead to students dropping out and ending up in the criminal justice system.

Experts say disparities appear to have complex causes. A disproportionate number of black students live below the poverty line or with a single parent, factors that affect disciplinary patterns. But experts say those factors do not fully explain racial differences in suspensions. Other contributing factors could include unintended bias, unequal access to highly effective teachers and differences in school leadership styles.

… An increasing number of studies have looked into whether poverty, family background or other characteristics explain racial disparities, said researcher Russell Skiba of Indiana University.

“It is not just a matter of kids coming from poverty,” Skiba said. “Poor kids do get suspended more. But that does not explain why poor black kids get suspended more than poor white kids and why affluent black kids get suspended more than affluent white kids.”

Read more at: www.washingtonpost.com