Recently studies found that African-American girls are suspended at much higher rates than their white counterparts even though evidence shows that African-American students do not misbehave more frequently than their peers. And these suspensions can have long-term consequences that could possibly follow the girls into adulthood.
The study on suspension was released in September by the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund and the National Women’s Law Center. It highlights the barriers to African-American girls staying in school and illustrates how poor educational outcomes can ultimately limit their opportunities, from decreased graduation rates to challenges in expected lifetime earnings, reports The Atlantic.
Obviously, education levels affect one’s earning potential. So the lower the educational level due to suspensions, the few opportunities these girls may have in the future to obtain wealth.
According to the report, a female African-American college graduate can expect an increase of about $657,000 during the course of her lifetime when compared to a female African-American high school graduate. But if she does not graduate from high school, her financial future is a lot more bleak. “In 2013, 43 percent of African American women without a high school diploma were living in poverty, compared to 29 percent with a high school diploma and just 9 percent with a bachelor’s degree, U.S. Census data show,” reports The Atlantic.
According to 2010 data, one-third (or 34 percent) of African-American girls failed to graduate from high school on time. Compare this to only 18 percent of White female students and 22 percent of all female students. Additionally, African-American girls are more than twice as likely as Whites to be held back a grade.
The report’s authors argue that cultural differences may play a part in the high suspensions of Black girls. According tot he authors, so-called traditional middle-class images of femininity, which value passivity in girls, can conflict with stereotypes of African-American females as loud, assertive, and provocative. And this can lead to differing punishments for similar conduct, says the report. “Subjective offenses like ‘disobedience’ or ‘disruptive behavior’ may signify little more than a student’s failure to conform to dominant gender norms or fit a teacher’s view of what constitutes appropriate ‘feminine’ behavior,” reports The Atlantic.
Some experts suggest teacher training in how to understand the various cultural norms as well as much more diversity in the teaching pool. And ultimately, look at punishments such as detention and suspension as a last resort.