Stats pointing to racial bias in expulsions and suspensions spur a new look at school discipline. by Brian Mackey
To read this article on the Illinois Issues, University of Illinois at Springfield website, click here.
If a student happens to have been born black, he’s three times more likely to be suspended or expelled than his white classmates. That statistic comes from the U.S. Department of Education, and it’s often repeated by people who favor changing the way students are disciplined. But as with all averages, it obscures the rough edges that become apparent only when looking more closely at the numbers, and Illinois has some of the roughest edges around.
The Chicago Public Schools report “suspensions per 100 students,” which allows comparisons among schools of varying sizes. It also accounts for the fact that Latinos and African-American students vastly outnumber those in every other demographic. Using this metric, disparities in discipline are even starker: In the 2012-2013 school year, white students were suspended at a rate of 5 per 100; black students at a rate of 32 per 100. In Chicago’s more “challenging” schools, the numbers strain comprehension: Students at Fenger High School, on the far south side, received out-of-school suspensions at a rate of 123 per 100; at Orr High School, on the west side, that figure was 294 per 100 students. Contrast that with the elite Walter Payton High School: 1.4 suspensions per 100 students.