Home / Crimes Against Children / School To Prison Pipeline Thriving: Study Finds That Students Of Color As Young As Preschool Are Consistently Suspended More Than Their White Classmates For Similar Offenses
Jason Reed/Reuters
Jason Reed/Reuters

School To Prison Pipeline Thriving: Study Finds That Students Of Color As Young As Preschool Are Consistently Suspended More Than Their White Classmates For Similar Offenses

Civil Rights Data Collection released grim findings Tuesday morning showing a clear racial gap in how disciplinary measures are enforced in public schools nationwide.



New findings from the U.S. Department of Education (DOE) shows that the America’s public schools suspended significantly fewer students in 2014 than they did in 2012, however undeniable gaps continue to persist across racial lines – not merely in the way students were disciplined but additionally in their access to experienced teachers and advanced math and science courses.

This fundamental, widespread injustice within the public school system and the subsequent effect that it has on adolescent development, sustainable communities, and household wage growth is commonly referred to as the “school to prison pipeline.”

The study, collected and analyzed by the Civil Rights Data Collection on behalf of the DOE, consisted of a national survey of over 50 million students at more than 95,000 public schools, including nearly 1.5 million preschool students enrolled at almost 29,000 public schools.

Among many data points, the findings show that Black children represented 19 percent of all preschoolers, yet accounted for 47 percent of those who received suspensions, an imbalance which the 2011-2012 Civil Rights Data Collection first discovered and remains relatively unchanged.

Additionally, of the 2.8 million students nationwide of all ages who received suspensions, Black students were nearly four times as likely to be suspended and almost twice as likely to be expelled as white students. As a result, Black students unsurprisingly are also significantly more likely to be referred to law enforcement or arrested at school.

This stark inequality “tears at the moral fabric of the nation,” said U.S. Secretary of Education John B. King, Jr. ” We will not compromise away the civil right of all students to an excellent education.”

The Secretary added, “I don’t think there’s any way you could look at this data and not come away with a tremendous sense of urgency about continuing to close our equity gaps.”

Experienced Teachers And Math/Science Are Middle-Class Luxuries

Students of color aren’t just more likely to face disproportionate punishments along with higher probabilities of police interaction; they also get less access to experienced teachers, rigorous courses, and the kind of academic stimulation at the grade school level necessary in order to obtain the critical skills required to excel in higher education.

11 percent of black students and 9 percent of Latino students attend schools where more than a fifth of educators are in their first year of teaching, in contrast with just 5 percent of white students in a similar situation.

Additionally, the study found that half of high schools don’t offer calculus, and that nearly a quarter don’t offer chemistry. When the numbers are broken down across racial lines, it is revealed that 56 percent of schools with low minority populations offered the two aforementioned courses, compared to just one third of those with high Black and Brown populations.

“Right now we’re talking a good game about college and career readiness but not all students attend schools that offer courses that are necessary for college readiness,” said Daria Hall, Interim Vice President for Government Affairs and Communications at the Education Trust, a leading education advocacy group based in Washington D.C. “You look across all of this information and it bcomes very clear why we have gaps in achievement.”

About Adam Ciminello

Entrepreneurship, Social Justice, and the idea of Bono never performing again are all things that excite me. And yes, my grandma is cooler than yours. Say hi sometime on twitter @Aciminello

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