Black students disproportionately disciplined in nation’s schools

Discussion in 'General Education' started by ACardAttack, Feb 9, 2013.

  1. ACardAttack

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    Feb 9, 2013

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/therootdc/black-students-disproportionately-disciplined-in-nations-schools/2012/06/12/gJQAiXWzXV_story.html

    A friend sent me this article, and it struck pretty close to me as I teach at a predominantly African American school. What really caught my eye about this article is it is written by an African American who seems to have the same issues I have as white teacher.

    I'm just curious if anyone has had experiences, either similar to or in contrast to the article. Where I'm at, I agree with pretty much everything pointed out in the article. I don't get much direct disrespect other than them trying to bring in food, iphones, hoodies, etc, or them trying to talk when I talk which sometimes leads to them trying to get in an argument/"debate" about why they should be able to break that given rule.
     
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  3. Ms.SLS

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    I am not an African American (so correct me if I'm wrong) but I've spent a lot of time reading and studying this particular subject. In short, I would say that American schools value sitting quietly and following the rules without question. On the flip side, African American culture values oral participation and speaking your mind. The article said, "The bottom line is that school systems are not intrinsically biased against black kids. There are some sobering, underlying questions that must be answered by the black community regarding the overall behavior and comportment of our school-aged youth" But I sort of feel that the system IS a little biased. It's set up to cater to a specific type of student from a specific type of background, and doesn't have much leniency for those who do not fit in to that ideal.

    With A.A. youth, I've seen the idea of following the American Education socially acceptable construct (ie. quiet, "good student") as "acting white." As sort of "giving in to the man" if you will. This *could* stem from a lack of leadership from people of color - lets face it: in schools, many (not all) leadership roles are filled with white folks. If teenagers, who by nature are rebellious, see acting out as maintaining their culture (not saying this is true, just saying this is what a lot of kids think), then it's really sort of a horrible cycle.

    When I worked in a school with a high African American population, I found that the kids didn't disrespect me as long as I was respectful to them. That's a very simplified explanation, but it's more or less the jist of it.
     
  4. Mrs. H2O

    Mrs. H2O Rookie

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    I disagree with this.

    Our schools aren't biased against noisy, rambunctious kids -- we're trying to train them on how to behave in society as a whole. As I've told my kids, being noisy, running around, and using improper grammar is perfectly fine at home, or outside, or at friend's houses.

    But when you leave school and want a good-paying job with responsibility and leadership, you're going to have to comport yourself in a more formal manner. That means you'll need to sit still, listen to and respect your bosses, and use proper grammar.

    Childhood is the time during which children learn proper behavior and speech; we'd be doing them a disservice if we didn't work hard to teach them the behaviors that will enable them to be successful in the board room, in the office, and on a resume.
     
  5. ecteach

    ecteach Devotee

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    We were told last year to stop writing up African American Males for misbehavior. We were told that we were writing them up too much and we were on a "watch list." We had one person who got extremely upset about this: An African American male teacher. He ripped the lady a new one. He had better points than she did. Her face turned the color of a beet! Classic!
     
  6. comaba

    comaba Cohort

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    :thumb:

    I agree with Ms. SLS, but want to point out that African American culture is as varied as white culture. I work in a low SES middle school with a predominantly African American population. Some of the students fit the stereotype that the author describes, but many, many more are just like my own kids, and their parents are just like me.

    I think the author of that article has done a huge disservice to the African American population as a whole. Obviously, there are problems. I've had 'problem' students. The solution for me wasn't to discipline them until they fit the mold I expected, but to continuously model the respect and behavior that I expected. In many ways, I think it's a matter of trust.
     
  7. comaba

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    That's a classic example of admin attacking a problem with a directive that doesn't solve the problem, rather than trying to find ways to change the behavior.
     
  8. Ima Teacher

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    I'm in a school that is something like 99.98% white. Our "too many referrals" group is white, low-income boys who are performing below grade level. If you pulled our data, it would look like we target them.

    Our 0.02 are made up of mixed race, generally black/white or white/Hispanic. That's it.

    One year we had adopted brothers in the same grade. They were the only two non-white children in our building. One was a terror, with disrespect, violence, and lack or work ethic. He was in the office a whole lot. The other was personable and a hard worker. Mom came in during 8th grade year saying that we picked on son 1 because he was black. Principal pointed out that her other son was also black, and he hadn't been to the office in almost 3 years in our building. The others with similar discipline records to son 1 were white.
     
  9. Ms.SLS

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    I think the common term for this is becoming bicultural - we don't really think about it for the African American community, but really, that's what it is. Dominant American society, as you pointed out, has certain values that will allow you to enter college, get a job, be respected, etc. The kids that learn, and use, these values are successful. The kids who don't, aren't.

    We all behave differently around close friends/family than we would in the work place - the degree of that difference depends on what your background is. Learning to navigate those different social realms based on cultural expectations IS an important skill - I just think that a lot of the time, the education system inadvertently sends the message that one cultural system is the RIGHT one, rather than a DIFFERENT one that you need to learn to navigate appropriately.
     
  10. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    Feb 9, 2013

    The same phenomenon is true in our legal and justice systems.

    The bottom line is that our country is still pretty racist. And sexist. And classist.
     
  11. Linguist92021

    Linguist92021 Phenom

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    Feb 9, 2013

    I agree with that. At the 2 lock ups I've seen the same student demographics for the past 2 years (almost 2 years), even though the turn over is extremely high:
    African American: about 10-15 %
    Latino: about 70-80 %
    White: about 10-15%

    I think the judges are much more lenient towards white kids, and instead of locking them up for the same crime, they order community service, home supervision.
    They look at a Latino gang member / committing a crime, home sup. or community service is out, they get 6-12 months.
    African Americans, well I think a lot of them get a longer sentence (I don't work at that lock up, so I don't see them), and I think that's where they are.

    Interestingly at the court ordered drug / rehab school the population is mostly white, with very few Latino's and AA. Most of these kids haven't committed crimes, but a lot of them still did. I've heard plenty of stories where the kid told me he got busted with his buddy, they sent the other one to the lock up, and him to this school. At this school they have much more privileges and benefits.

    I'm sure there's more to the story, and every case is different, but the student demographics say a lot.
     
  12. webmistress

    webmistress Devotee

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    AMEN!!! If this data has been proven in regards to every facet of the legal system (like the drug sentences/Fair Sentencing Act, death penalty stats)...driving while black, etc...there's no doubt racial profiling and discrimination exists in schools as well.
     
  13. JustMe

    JustMe Virtuoso

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    Sadly I understand much of the article to be accurate. I don't think black students are targeted...I think many make themselves impossible to ignore. :(

    This is not to say I agree with the entire article (such as the point about seeing a black student and knowing there would be issues) and it's certainly not implying all black students present behavior issues and that all behavior issues come from black students. But if there are very high numbers regarding black students and discipline, maybe there is a reason other than discrimination. Actually, not maybe...for sure there is.
     
  14. Croissant

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    Feb 10, 2013

    :thumb:
     
  15. YoungTeacherGuy

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    Feb 14, 2013

    I've thought long and hard about what the author states. I find most of it very accurate (I can speak from my own past experiences). I found myself nodding my head as I was reading each paragraph...
     
  16. AnthonyA

    AnthonyA Rookie

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    Feb 14, 2013

    Let's be REALISTIC

    The posts I'm reading are hilarious, yet not surprising. Are all of you that brain-washed? Let's be realistic here. Whether we are talking school behavior or street crime, blacks simply commit more offenses. Period. Too many people worried about being labeled "racist". The numbers don't lie and they're not biased. Only a liberal would think otherwise. What troubles me most are people who are claiming biased numbers, etc, yet they choose NOT to live in a black neighborhood, for example. Or send their own kids to predominantly black schools. Wow, can you say HYPOCRITE! My question is, do you really believe what you type or are you trying to be politically correct? Is the answer is the former, then you are simply brain-washed, most likely from the ultra liberal college professors who like to dish out "White guilt". Wake up people. Oh, and if you believe what you say, at least don't be a hypocrite. Move into that black neighborhood and send your kids to black schools. Yup, didn't think so. I'll tell you one thing, at least I have the b*lls to see reality and not to give into being politically correct. Geez, what a world this had become. Pathetic.
     
  17. Ms.SLS

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    I live in a black/hispanic neighborhood, thanks. I don't have kids, but if I did, they would be going to my local school.

    I would say more, but there's no point in arguing with an immature, internet troll.
     
  18. AnthonyA

    AnthonyA Rookie

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    Troll or REALIST? Typical. You don't agree, so call names. By the way, we're not talking about Hispanics. They (Hispanics) also have a much lower suspension rate than blacks, but of course that's not what is focused on in the article. They only like using Whites to compare. Funny, Asians have an even lower suspension rate than Whites, but they're not mentioned or being compared to. It's okay, keep your heads in the sand.
    By the way, the rates are consistent across every single city in the US. I guess every single city and their schools are biased. Yeah, that MUST be it. What else, right?
     
  19. Loves the beach

    Loves the beach Companion

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    Feb 14, 2013

     
  20. Loves the beach

    Loves the beach Companion

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    My best friend is black. He says there are few male father figures in most households in his neighborhood. How about we quit blaming teachers on the problems of the world and start talking openly and honestly. That's how problems begin to be solved. I'm sick of political correctness.
     
  21. schoolteacher

    schoolteacher Habitué

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    Exactly. I work in a school that is 99% African American. I have had the same experience as you.

    Children can sense adult attitudes, even if they are not overtly stated. When children feel supported and cared for, they respond in kind.

    This is a self-fulfilling prophecy.
     
  22. stephenpe

    stephenpe Connoisseur

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    INBTL

    To be fair you called them cowards with your testicles comments.
    But facts is facts I guess for you. I live in the small town south. Racism is alive and well here but with everything wide open now and in the sunshine (as they say in Fla) the racists now have MUCH LESS power over anyone. But read the rural letters to the editor. Obama is the worst pres. in history because of blah blah blah. Everything they spew was learned from those radio hate mongers but I digress.
    I have taught many AA children, hispanic and even a few Asian children. My Hispanic kids are the best behaved. My AA children are as well behaved as my white kids. This year my worst kids are almost all white and poverty and poor homes account for most of it. As for my intestinal fortitude I teach them all the same. Praise when needed, correct them when bad. Talk to their parents. My AA parents are by and large as good as any I have. I have even taught some of them. But welcome to the forum and tell us a little more about your school situation. My best friend teaches ESE in an inner city.
     
  23. JustMe

    JustMe Virtuoso

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    This--the lack of fathers--is what I was thinking when I wrote my post above. It's horrible. So many of my black students live with their mamaws with zero or limited contact with their fathers or any positive male figures.
     
  24. waterfall

    waterfall Maven

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    This is so true. I used to work at a summer camp in high school where 100% of the attendees were black. Out of well over 100 children, there was ONE child who had a father actually in her life. It became a big problem with the other kids because they would bully her out of jealousy.

    In both of the districts I've taught in we have a large hispanic population and family is very important in their culture. In my last district I had 100% two parent families. Now that I'm more in the "inner city" I have less, but definitely more than average, and even those that are not married still have a fathers involved in their lives and large family networks. Our hispanic kids are generally very well behaved. We are 90% hispanic and 10% white. Every grade level has 2-3 kids that have BIG behavior problems (violence, tearing up classrooms, etc.) We recently did an analysis of our "high flyer behavior population" and every single one of those kids is white. Family involvement makes such a huge difference!
     
  25. Securis

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    When I taught in an all African American school and community with maybe 2-4 children who were white, latin, or asian out of 600+, I noticed that some children who were African American were always being disciplined plus the one latin boy that seemed to be a negative leader at times. In total across every grade level, it was maybe a double handful of children that were constantly being referred or alternately disciplined. Sure, other children were causing themselves trouble but with lesser frequency. What I also noticed among that double handful, they had a sense of camaraderie with administrators who usually dealt with them when their behaviors became too disruptive for the classroom. So it begs the question, when we as people have a problem who do we want to deal with? We want to deal with someone who can actually affect the world we know. These kids have learned where the power lies and they gravitate towards it. I've seen these kids flip out in front of their regular teacher due to the situation but in front of the principal act with respect and good sense. A classroom teacher often doesn't have the most compelling leverage to reason a misbehaving student back into behaving.

    Okay, I think my incoherent ramble is finished for now. Gotta go do dishes.
     
  26. lucybelle

    lucybelle Connoisseur

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    I think in the USA it's less the culture and ethnicity and more of the living situation they're in. I think most teachers in the USA are used to dealing with a diverse group of students who come from different cultures. I think in the USA teachers are very good at integrating different learning types and global information. The bottom line is the kids who are living in ghettos with only one or no parents are going to act out more in class. In some areas this is going to be majority black and Hispanics. In other areas it will be whites.

    Although at my current school I have certainly seen the clash of cultures between Germans and Costa Ricans. We have German teachers who expect to walk into a classroom with all the kids sitting down, quiet, with a pencil in hand and ready to start. But Costa Rican students are very lively, like to talk, sing, dance, etc. We've had more than one German teacher completely unable to control their classroom and drive themselves insane trying to get the kids to sit like robots in the class. I think the difference is that the German teachers are used to a more homogenous classroom. I never had a problem controlling my classroom because I'm used to dealing with students who have a wide range of personalities and backgrounds.

    I'm wondering if any of this made sense...
     
  27. a2z

    a2z Maven

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    Yes, Lucybelle it made perfect sense.

    German teachers wanted compliance through dictating rules. You understand your students' culture and gain compliance by adapting classroom structure based on students.
     
  28. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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  29. callmebob

    callmebob Enthusiast

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    After reading the article I do have a hard time commenting directly on black students behavior. Over the course of my career I have probably had a total of a dozen black students. Every year I have one or two, that's about it. My first reaction though is that it is not about targeting students based on race for discipline, but more targeting students who misbehave. Now if these particular students are misbehaving due to a real or perceived culture of their race; well that just seems pretty sad to me.
    We will never get away from people focusing on black and white in this country if groups continue to make choices based on being a certain race.
     
  30. mmswm

    mmswm Moderator

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    I've been searching for several days for a study I read a few years ago. I've been unsuccessful thus far, but will continue to look. This particular study reviewed the disciplinary action taken for the exact same offenses between white and black students. They looked at students in majority white schools as well as majority black schools. The overwhelming conclusion was that by and large, black students were punished more harshly for the same offenses than their white peers, regardless of the racial make up of the school involved. I don't deny that there are other social problems that affect black students, but that study really provides a lot of food for thought regarding the state of racial equality in America.
     
  31. a2z

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    mmswm, that would be an interesting study to read. I wonder if it also included prior offenses in the comparison of decisions regarding harshness.
     
  32. mmswm

    mmswm Moderator

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    It did. It was a very comprehensive study. At the time I read it, all my subscriptions to various professional journals were still active, and I'm beginning to fear it was a subscription only site. They studied over 20,000 students in small districts, large districts, urban, suburban and rural districts. They also looked at students in all grade levels. I was blown away at how many details they looked at. It seemed to me that they were trying to prove that racism did not exist and that the disparity was caused by something else, but couldn't come to that conclusion.
     
  33. a2z

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    It is great to hear the study was so thorough.

    I read a great article the other day that was on subscription only site and was going to mention it here on a new thread, but I didn't because I couldn't really link anything.

    I've heard of the study you are talking about, but I'm sure if you can't find it, I wouldn't have any luck.
     
  34. TeacherGroupie

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    Thanks for the attempt, mm, and for the insight: I know you would know whether the statistics were open to question.

    I get that it's foolish and dangerous to insist that every instance of punishment doled out to every black kid is racist. But it's equally foolish and dangerous to insist that no instance of punishment doled out to a black kid is ever racist - which means that the question deserves to be revisited with some regularity until studies such as the one mm remembers show that racism plays no role in discipline (or, for that matter, in justice).
     
  35. stephenpe

    stephenpe Connoisseur

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    I must either be lucky or live in a parallel universe. I have taught lots of black and white kids. Some of my very best were the AA kids. Many are college educated and professionals. Some are teachers. One is an actor in movies you probably have seen. His dad is a school board member in our county (great guy). The bad behaviors this year are all from awful homes (no dads or BAD dads) and most are white. The different races I have taught over the years leaned neither way. Most were good kids that turned out fine. A few turned out badly. To be honest, most were white % wise.
     

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