Friday, March 23, 2012

Minority students as targets?

Here's the LA Times editorial page on this topic:

The big announcement from the U.S. Department of Education implied that schools were unfairly disciplining African American students, and that's how it was played in news reports. "Minority students across America face harsher discipline," the agency's press release read, under a headline that called this an "educational inequity."

Indeed, minority students are more likely to be disciplined than whites are relative to their overall numbers in public school, and the difference is especially stark for African American students, who make up 18% of the student population but 35% of first-time suspensions. Many studies over the years have confirmed the same trend, and it's certainly a troubling omen for efforts to raise achievement among minority students.

But is it a result of prejudice among educators? Or does it reflect differences in behavior among students? Or are there more zero-tolerance policies that require suspensions in inner-city schools? Unfortunately, the public is left without an answer to these questions because the Education Department skimmed only the surface of the topic. It looked solely at the numbers and types of disciplinary actions against students relative to their overall population. In order to know whether minority students are treated unfairly, it needed to compare those numbers with the numbers of times students of various races and ethnic groups broke the rules, and whether they were treated differently for the same misbehavior, among other things.


Minority students as targets?

An Education Dept. report only skims the surface of the question of whether there is racial inequity in schools' disciplining of students.

LA Times editorial

March 10, 2012,0,5580925.story

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