Reading, Writing, Racism: Racial Disparities Start As Early As Pre-School

March 25, 2014  |  

Despite the strides America likes to believe its made, the stats show racism is alive and well. And that includes the school system.

New data from the U.S. Education Department’s 2011-2012 Civil Rights Data Collection (which is done every two years and incorporates information from every U.S. school district) found that public school students of color receive more punishment and have  less access to more experienced teachers than white children. Black students are punished with suspension or expulsion at three times the rate of their whites. “Five percent of white students were suspended annually, compared with 16 percent of black students, according to the report. Black girls were suspended at a rate of 12 percent — far greater than girls of other ethnicities and most categories of boys,” reports The Huffington Post.

Although blacks represent 16 percent of America’s public school students, they are 27 percent of students referred to law enforcement, and 31 percent of those arrested for an offense committed in school. “Black students make up 18 percent of preschool enrollment, but they comprise 48 percent of preschool students receiving more than one suspension out of school,” reports HuffPo.

And most minority students are put in classrooms with the newest teachers. Seven percent of black students go to schools where 20 percent of the teachers have not met license and certification requirements.

As a result, minority students are at a higher risk of dropping out of school. From these stats, it’s obvious the goals of the landmark Supreme Court 1954 Brown v. Board of Education ruling banning school segregation and the right to quality education for all children is not being enacted.

“In all, it is clear that the United States has a great distance to go to meet our goal of providing opportunities for every student to succeed,” said U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan in a statement.

The government says it’s working to fix the problems. “This critical report shows that racial disparities in school discipline policies are not only well documented among older students, but actually begin during preschool,” Attorney General Eric Holder said. “Every data point represents a life impacted and a future potentially diverted or derailed. This administration is moving aggressively to disrupt the school-to-prison pipeline in order to ensure that all of our young people have equal educational opportunities.”

According to Daniel Losen, director of the Center for Civil Rights Remedies for the Civil Rights Project at UCLA, there is no real reason to harshly punish pre-schoolers.

“Most preschool kids want to be in school,” Losen told ABC News. “Kids just don’t understand why they can’t go to school.”

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