Minority students face harsher discipline
March 7, 2012By Cavalier Dave Forrester of Hugh M Cummings High School
Report: Minority students face harsher discipline
WASHINGTON — African-American or Hispanic students may be more likely to be suspended, expelled — or even arrested — than their white peers. What’s not clear is why.
Is it discrimination, as some civil rights groups contend, or are minority students committing more infractions? Or are minority students receiving tougher punishments than whites for similar incidents?
What is known, from an Education Department civil rights report releasedTuesday, is that Hispanic and African-American students comprise nearly three-quarters of students involved in school-related arrests or cases handed over to police. The report also found that black students are more than three times as likely as their white peers to be suspended or expelled. And, that a disproportionate number of black students with disabilities are strapped down or subjected to other restraints.
“The sad fact is that minority students across America face much harsher discipline than non-minorities, even within the same school,” said Education Secretary Arne Duncan.
Neither Duncan nor the report provided the details behind the numbers.
Civil rights activists said they weren’t surprised by the results. They blamed get tough, “zero tolerance” policies that they say contribute to a “schools-to-prisons” pipeline. The problem, they say, is that zero tolerance applies more to minorities than white children. They say it’s time for a dialogue on appropriate and fair discipline.
Duncan said some school officials might not have been aware of inconsistencies in how they handle discipline, and he, too, hoped the report would be an eye-opener. “We’re not alleging overt discrimination in some or all of these cases,” he said.