The Post has a new report up showing that black students in the Washington area are suspended and expelled “two to five times as often” as white students:

Last year, for example, one in seven black students in St. Mary’s County were suspended from school, compared with one in 20 white students. In Alexandria, black students were nearly six times as likely to be suspended as their white peers.

In Fairfax, where the suicide in January of a white high school football player who had been suspended brought an outcry for change, African American students were four times as likely that year to be suspended as white students, and Hispanic students were twice as likely.

The problems extend beyond the Washington area to school districts across the country and are among a host of concerns about school discipline that sparked a joint effort by the U.S. Justice and Education departments in July to look into reforms.

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.

Donna St. George interviewed an array of school officials and parents who note that a huge part of the problem is the suspension-happy treatment of discretionary offenses. When committing these non-violent infractions, black students are far more likely to be punished more harshly than whites who commit the exact same offenses. Meanwhile, poverty and its attendant behavioral issues don’t entirely explain why, as one researcher pointed out, “affluent black kids get suspended more than affluent white kids.”

It’s always dangerous to dive into the comment sections of newspaper stories, but the piece has picked up a notable 3,400 comments since it ran yesterday. Unsurprisingly, nearly everyone in the comment section is an expert on the behavior of blacks, and it doesn’t take much to find miles of racist and uninformed musings. A sampling:

Ms. St. George… Has it occurred to the you that “In Washington area, African American students suspended and expelled two to five times as often as whites” because African American students COMMIT OFFENSES warranting suspension and expulsion with two to five times the FREQUENCY of whites?

And:

The problem is that Blacks break the rules more often so they get suspended more often. Its time we teach all of our children ethics and morality and how to act properly. This problem can be fixed if we fix the overly permissive, excuse making culture in our society. (Basically liberal Democrats) This corrupted culture seems to be negatively affecting minorities much more than whites.

And:

Is Donna St. George aware that black people refer to making good grades and attending school every day, “acting white”? If so, she failed to mention it in her article. For anyone wanting the answer to this “problem”, simply Google “black pathology”.

And:

This article is ridiculous. Black students get suspended more because their behavior is awful. Their culture has been corrupted. They are mostly being raised by a mother only. They have no positive male role models. The women are getting pregnant on a whim. The morals and ethics of the poor black person is horrific. Stop blaming the schools for mythological racial bias. Start blaming black people who just simply have worse behavior. Liberals are just making the situation worse for Black people.

Obviously, race-based stories like this tend to attract the angry id of racism, but when these kinds of viewpoints still exist, it’s not a surprise that black kids are being sent to the principal’s office and getting written up more frequently than their white counterparts. The comments, in other words, may do an even better job than the story does of explaining the phenomenon.

Photo by Colette Cassinelli