Thinking more about the story on race and school suspension disparities has me wondering why the Post chose to highlight the troll-baiting fact that black kids get suspended more often. That’s kind of a gimme, based on the factors they mention: higher rates of poverty tend to mean more behavioral issues.
What’s far more interesting is that statistics show black kids get suspended for the same kinds of minor infractions that white kids get a pass for. Author Donna St. George touches on that in her piece, but it’s only in the comments that she highlights actual numbers from a study of 21 Maryland schools. Catherine Bradshaw, a researcher at Johns Hopkins, found that, “even after controlling for the student’s level of teacher-rated behavior problems, teacher ethnicity, and other classroom factors, Black students were significantly more likely than White students to receive [office disciplinary referrals]. Results also suggested that ethnic match between students and their teachers did not reduce the risk for referrals among Black students.”
And yes, that may complicate the idea that it’s white-on-black racism that’s getting these kids punished unfairly, but it seems safe to say that there appears to be a commonly held belief that black kids should be punished harder for minor offenses. But why? That’s a question worth exploring in depth, in a way that both the Post and its readers seem unprepared to do.
Photo by Colette Cassinelli via Flickr/Creative Commons Attribution Generic 2.0 License