March 13, 2012

Race Stats on School Suspensions: Be Careful Jumping to Conclusions

Marc Comtois

RI NPR Education blogger Elisabeth Harrison reports on newly released data (collected for 2009) from the federal Office of Civil Rights showing that, when it comes to school discipline, "African-American students are more likely to face harsh discipline than their peers." Harrison reports that for Rhode Island, it "depends on the school district."

Plenty of statistics appear to support this assertion and Harrison provided some examples supporting these findings (and I paraphrase/quote her report here)*:

* Cranston - African-Americans comprised 4% of the student population but accounted for 50% of all expulsions.
* Pawtucket - Hispanic students made up 66% of all in-school suspensions but represented 25% of the district’s student population. African-Americans accounted for 33% of in-school suspensions and 29% of the student body. White students were the single largest group & had no in-school suspensions.
* Woonsocket - "African-American and Hispanic students were both slightly over-represented in the in-school suspension category."

Harrison's other finding: that these same minority groups are under-represented in advanced courses as well as gifted and talented programs. Again, results vary by community and Harrison cited a couple examples (again, this is a paraphrase/quote of Harrison):

* Woonsocket - There were no non-white students in Woonsocket’s gifted programs and no Hispanic students taking calculus even though Hispanics represent roughly 25% of Woonsocket’s enrolled school population.
* Providence - Hispanic students were under-represented in the district’s gifted programs and calculus classes, and Hispanic students were less likely to take the SAT or the ACT than their peers in other racial and ethnic groups.

This prompted RI Future's Bob Plain to observe that "the easiest way to avoid discipline at local high schools is to be white." However, while Plain didn't specifically address the achievement gap (instead focusing on the "disciplinary gap"), I think the statistics regarding the achievement disparities confirm what most educators and eduwonks have noted over the years: these poor participation rates in academically advanced programs can be best correlated to socio-economic factors rather than race.

I also think the same could be said about the disciplinary statistics. Unfortunately, there is no clear breakdown in the data that takes these factors into account. Nor does demography account for other factors. Without that information, and by using statistics in the same way, we could just as look across the data and easily conclude that being a male puts you behind the 8-ball in nearly every aspect of education. Therefore, I hereby proclaim that the easiest way to avoid discipline at school is to be a girl.

* I'd stress that while Harrison made it clear that Rhode Island showed mixed results, she primarily focused on examples that seem to support the idea that minorities are disciplined more than whites. As a counter, a quick look at the same data for such diverse communities as Warwick and Central Falls--Warwick is predominantly white and Central Falls is predominantly Hispanic--show pretty consistent numbers across the board.

ADDENDUM: Commenter "Dan" points out something I was wondering about. The relative consistency in the data for such seemingly disparate communities as Warwick and Central Falls supports the idea that economic disparity within a school system could be a bigger driver of disparate disciplinary rates than race or class itself, per se.

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The Central Falls data seems to reinforce that it's all socio-economic. I wouldn't expect much difference in discipline rates in such a consistently low-income school system, whereas school systems representing a wide variety of incomes and communities would have larger correlating disparities.

As I pointed out in response to the original article on RIFuture, more accurately, the hardest way to avoid disciple is to change skin color, while the easiest way is to control your behavior and not skip school.

Posted by: Dan at March 13, 2012 1:35 PM

Breaking News:
Blacks are grossly overrepresented in people doing life for murder because they KILL MORE PEOPLE per capita by far than whites or Asians.
I shudder to think of what "solution" the Looney Left, aided by an affirmative action president and AG, will come up with in a possible second term of the Skunk.

Posted by: Tommy Cranston at March 13, 2012 2:20 PM

I'd be curious to know the percentage of each race and the married vs. single parent makeup of the families of those disciplined. Maybe that has a lot to say about things. One clearly will produce less disciplined children.
Of course, the stupid liberals will not want to address that because they can't stand the truth.
This is simply more evidence of how the liberals in this country have destroyed the black family and that of other minorities.
They just make excuses for them, call us a bunch of bigots, and go along their merry way, heads firmly planted up their @sses, as the problem just gets worse. Shocking!

Posted by: Mike Cappelli at March 13, 2012 3:33 PM

The democrats are violating their own imposed laws, the ones they decided on for the state's public housing programs, to deny residents of suburban cities and towns who are being priced out of private rents (because of democrat imposed policies that increased competition for rents, thereby causing rents to increase, by creating sanctuary cities in Providence, Pawtucket, Central Falls, Woonsocket, East Providence) so they can funnel illegal aliens from those sanctuary cities into public housing in quieter RI cities and towns. Actual residents in the various cities and towns are finding their waits on lists getting longer and longer, yet illegal alienss, who weren't residents of the cities and towns, are being given slots in that housing. Citizen residents are then told they can go apply in the crime and bed bug ridden public housing units said illegal aliens have left behind. The democrats are shuffling the citizens who were displaced from their jobs by illegals, into the public housing in sanctuary cities destroyed by illegal aliens, forcing citizen children into the hell holes of majority illegal alien attended schools. It's just more social engineering. Watch out East Bay, it's happening in your towns too.

Posted by: Jenny at March 13, 2012 8:11 PM

"RI Future's Bob Plain to observe that "the easiest way to avoid discipline at local high schools is to be white."

What a marvelous observation, it completely avoids the necessity to consider behavior. If it is so easy, why doesn't he instruct all black kids to show up white?

An observation of my own. I tend to be on the road at the time high schools lets out. If I stop to let a group of white kids cross the street,they tend to wave appreciation and run. If I do the same for black kids,they tend to glare and stroll. In mixed groups the white kids will run (or speed up) the black kids will stroll. I don't tend to be near truly "urban" high schools, I have wondered if the differences would still appear. ("urban" what a great non-specific term. I was in a TJ Max, or similar, recently; I noticed they had an "urban clothing" section)

I hope this doesn't mark me as racist, but there it is.

Posted by: Warrington Faust at March 13, 2012 9:17 PM

Warrington - There is a certain culture in DC that tracks closely along racial lines to stroll along the sidewalk, hallway, or the stairs verrrrry slooowwwwly, as if headed nowhere in particular, while blocking as much foot traffic as possible. It's certainly not a genetic issue - it's an adopted behavior, and I wouldn't particularly care, but I have to get to work and it makes it very difficult in the morning. I can state that it would bother me no matter what the color of the obstructionists, and I don't think it's racist to observe plain reality. Obviously there are some troublesome cultural elements present that do nobody any good and could probably stand to be done away with.

Posted by: Dan at March 14, 2012 7:40 AM

Maybe there are administrators in these schools that share the same kind of racial attitudes expressed here by Warrington and Tommy.

Posted by: Phil at March 14, 2012 8:18 AM

One hopes so, Phil. We need administrators that see what is as opposed to what they wish it was. It is simply astounding how liberal elites ignore the consequences of their high-minded actions...and then blame others for noticing,

Posted by: Mike678 at March 14, 2012 11:03 AM

Dan - "There is a certain culture in DC that tracks closely along racial lines to stroll along the sidewalk".

One of my other observations in life is that in the financial/business districts of New York and Boston, people on the sidewalks are "going someplace". I have noticed that in Washington, everyone seems to "stroll".

Posted by: Warrington Faust at March 14, 2012 10:44 PM

Apparently, this "civil rights report" ia attracting more attention than we may realize:

Posted by: Warrington Faust at March 15, 2012 10:01 AM
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