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African American students with disabilities face disproportionately high suspension rates and lose more classroom time than white counterparts, study finds.

Black male students in rural counties and those in foster care are suspended at some of the highest rates in California, a new report has found. The report also found that the disparity in suspension rates among black male students compared to all students is greatest in kindergarten through the 3rd grade.

The report, titled “Get Out! Black Male Suspensions in California Public Schools,” looked at suspensions through the 2016-17 school year. It was authored by J. Luke Wood and Frank Harris III, co-directors of San Diego State University’s Community College Equity Assessment Lab, and Tyrone C. Howard, director of UCLA’s Black Male Institute.

Their report found that while black male suspensions have declined statewide — from 18 percent of all suspensions in the 2011-12 school year to 13 percent last year, the rates are still disproportionate when compared to the overall student population.

African-Americans make up just over 5 percent of California’s public school enrollment, but account for nearly 18 percent of suspensions and black boys and young men receive nearly three-quarters of those suspensions.

African-American boys also make up 14 percent of those expelled.

But it is the analysis by grade level, geographic area and subgroup that the authors hope will raise awareness among districts and lead to more targeted support for black boys. Among the suggestions: teacher training and the preparation of school district personnel to better understand and respond to trauma that may be underlying disruptive behavior, such as family crisis or community violence. It also calls for the elimination of suspensions in early grades and creating a statewide task force that would investigate the underlying causes of suspensions of black boys with the goal of reducing them.

Howard said he and his colleagues took on the topic in light of “this larger discourse around the fact that suspensions are going down…That’s great but what we have not heard in that narrative is we still see the disproportionality for black students.”

Among the study’s findings:

  • The statewide suspension rate for black males is 3.6 times greater than the statewide rate for all students. But the highest suspension disparity by grade level occurs in grades K-3, where the suspension rate for black boys is 5.6 times greater than the statewide average.
  • Black boys in the foster care system are suspended overall at a rate of 27 percent, but those in 7th and 8th grades had the highest percentage of black male suspensions among all student subgroups statewide, at 41 percent. Among those subgroups are English learners, special education students and those in other racial and ethnic groups.
  • Geographically, while the highest total suspensions for black males occurred in large urban counties, rural counties with smaller black male enrollments posted the highest rates. In 2016-17, Glenn County led the state at 43 percent. Other counties with high suspension rates included Amador County, Colusa County, Del Norte County and Tehama County.
  • Counties with suspension rates at 20 percent or more in recent years included San Joaquin County, Modoc County, Butte County, Merced County and Yuba County.
  • Ten school districts logged black male suspension rates above 30 percent. Of these, the highest were reported at Bayshore Elementary in San Mateo County, at 50 percent; Oroville Union High in Butte County, at 45 percent; and the California School for the Deaf-Fremont in Alameda County, at 44 percent.

“Typically when we talk about black students in any particular state you tend to think of big urban centers,” Howard said in an interview. But the report’s findings pose questions on “the programs and practices and interventions taking place in rural schools. It was a surprise to us.”

Howard added that the high rates of discipline for middle school boys in foster care “shows us that we aren’t doing enough to address the needs of these youth.”

The study also noted 88 school districts whose black male suspension rates fell below the statewide average for all students, which is 3.6 percent. Of 13 of the largest districts cited, five were in Los Angeles County.

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  1. Inge Schlussler 3 months ago3 months ago

    We need to stop using all the Jargonese I’m seeing here. Get to know your students; build relationships with them. Provide mental health support at all grade levels. Group Therapy as a class period?

  2. lynn oliver 5 months ago5 months ago

    I am afraid the education system has always been somewhat authoritarian and much more so when they brought in Galton and later Gardner with fixed abilities and the blind desire for simply working harder and more authoritarianism to make students work harder. All of this now is found to be very harmful to all students, but most for those students from lower socioeconomic bracket and who are also filled with many anxieties, fears, and, … Read More

    I am afraid the education system has always been somewhat authoritarian and much more so when they brought in Galton and later Gardner with fixed abilities and the blind desire for simply working harder and more authoritarianism to make students work harder. All of this now is found to be very harmful to all students, but most for those students from lower socioeconomic bracket and who are also filled with many anxieties, fears, and, for boys, much more allowed harsh treatment and less support at home and at school. This problem is causing all boys to fall behind their female peers collectively but more so as they come from lower socioeconomic areas. As a result of the myth of genetics, simply teaching, separating, and berating students who are not measuring up for a period of years without improvement, education has long since stagnated for many years and has almost all become just a very business for educators/businessmen and a gathering place for social politics among teachers with absolutely “no understanding or care for student learning, motivation, and mental health.
    The system has become a big conglomerate of business interests only. What is worse, this blind, ignorant form of education is now creating not only millions of students unable to compete in the information age, but also is creating through the myth of genetics more anxiety, fear, and hopelessness in its students leading to many dropouts, drug/alcohol abuse, suicide and now violence with suicidal intent.
    If we we were to begin teaching correctly and with more passionate insight the proper methods of teaching, we would begin redefining our average stress as many maintained layers of mental work from many past, present, future – experiences, fears, anxieties along with many weights and values (many of which hurt more so boys and persons from lower socioeconomic areas values of preparation for defense and allowed aggressiveness toward many boys because society simply allows this) which may become magnets for other accumulating hurts over time. To see how all of us but mostly those from lower socioeconomic areas are hurt more so, we must picture an upright rectangle, representing our full mental energy. Then we can draw in many narrowly spaced, horizontal lines to show many “maintained layers of mental frictions” from many past, present, future areas which take up real mental energy, leaving less mental energy for learning, motivation, and reflection time. This shows just how differential treatment greatly affects thinking, learning, long-term motivation, and mental health ( much more on this from my learning theory). For boys especially, this creates more activity for stress relief, higher muscle tension hurting handwriting, and very hurtful to reading, requiring “lower layers of average stress and high social vocabulary with communication skills which boys are in many cases denied from more hurtful treatment.
    Also add to this much less knowledge/skills from more social isolation from knowledge based persons (requiring more time to learn and develop to catch up) and much less kind, caring, verbal interaction for fear of coddling for boys leaving them far beyond in social communication skills. Note also boys are given love and honor only on condition of achievement, receiving more ridicule, pressure, and even abuse (more so allowed in lower areas) by parents, teachers, others when not succeeding or achieving in some way. So here we have these teachers and administrators who have benefited from more stable environments and are simply reflecting their more stable supported environments upon everyone else, including those boys and due to the false genetic models, simply falsely believe those boys require more discipline, more pressure, and ridicule to make them try harder. Also in line with the false belief in genetics is the false belief in succeeding by effort and many cases, removing breaks, recess, and simply extending the school year. In truth, as our “own” pace and intensity or effort, exceeds our immediate knowledge, experience, – or mental frame in an area, we create more exacerbated layers of mental work thus hurting much more so our learning, motivation, and reflection time. Much more so for boys who are told to simply try harder and fail for doing so. The right thing to teach is to slow down for new mental work, allowing our knowledge, experience, or mental frames to develop, thus allowing a faster pace with good motivation. Such ignorant teachers and administrators have no idea how to teach and help all students.
    As girls (from all socioeconomic areas), we are given kind, caring, verbal interaction from infancy by parents, teachers, peers, others. We are given love honor simply for being girls. We enjoy high social vocabulary, lower average stress, tremendous freedom of expression due to much protection, lower muscle tension for wonderful handwriting and fine motor skills. We have all of the tools to learn and continue growing. We must learn to use these wonderful insights to help all students improve from a more analytical and caring system of education which will work to find many more nuances of teaching and motivation for students over time. My learning theory is much to offer in providing many important tools for this including providing much more hope and esteem for our students.

  3. Jim Sporleder 10 months ago10 months ago

    This is a serious issue across the country. However, I believe the issue goes beyond our school system. As we are starting to see schools and agencies look at trauma-informed practices, there are improvements and less disproportionate data. It's a serious issues that we all need to come together around and seek common ground solutions in which we have win/win impact and outcomes for our students and youth of color. We need … Read More

    This is a serious issue across the country. However, I believe the issue goes beyond our school system. As we are starting to see schools and agencies look at trauma-informed practices, there are improvements and less disproportionate data. It’s a serious issues that we all need to come together around and seek common ground solutions in which we have win/win impact and outcomes for our students and youth of color. We need White and Black adults working in collaboration to correct this common disparity.

  4. John Walker 10 months ago10 months ago

    Instead of doing the comparison based on race how about comparing based on economic status. It does not matter when I do data comparisons this way because the root cause of the problem is not color it's economics. That in no way means that we should be suspending or expelling more disadvantaged students, but tying this to race is a lose lose situation. The same can be said for SBAC scores and … Read More

    Instead of doing the comparison based on race how about comparing based on economic status. It does not matter when I do data comparisons this way because the root cause of the problem is not color it’s economics. That in no way means that we should be suspending or expelling more disadvantaged students, but tying this to race is a lose lose situation. The same can be said for SBAC scores and just about any other metric out there. The root cause of these problems has been known for decades, and a local school district cannot and should not be held accountable for economics. Tying issues like this to ethnicity only results in the civil rights lawyers dancing because they file complaints and we use money for our lawyers instead of in the classrooms.

  5. lynn oliver 10 months ago10 months ago

    There needs to be a two-pronged effort here with both areas devoted to removing the "genetics and effort models" and teaching the more complex, environmental variables tools parents and teachers can begin providing their children in all areas of society. For boys this is very important, for the much more aggressive treatment given boys and allowed by parents, teachers, and peers is destroying their academic success. This is combined with much less, kind, … Read More

    There needs to be a two-pronged effort here with both areas devoted to removing the “genetics and effort models” and teaching the more complex, environmental variables tools parents and teachers can begin providing their children in all areas of society. For boys this is very important, for the much more aggressive treatment given boys and allowed by parents, teachers, and peers is destroying their academic success. This is combined with much less, kind, stable, verbal interaction from a young age, something we as girls are given very freely from infancy through adulthood.
    This very poor treatment of boys exists even in middle class environments, and those middle class boys are also falling behind their female peers collectively. However, as we go down the socioeconomic ladder, that more aggressive treatment increased much more so along with much less kind, stable, verbal interaction. When we combine this with far less knowledge and skills in those areas, we are virtually condemning boys in lower areas to failure. My complete, more complex, learning theory will go to all on request.

  6. FloydThursby 10 months ago10 months ago

    You need tutors to make sure these kids don't fall behind on reading and math. Every poor kid should get a tutor 2-3 hours a week 1-on-1. It's what the rich are doing with Kumon, Sylvan, C2C, etc. The kids getting suspended mirror those sent to prison. Most of the whites in prison are rural, which is where most of the suspended whites are. Black males, foster kids, all have … Read More

    You need tutors to make sure these kids don’t fall behind on reading and math. Every poor kid should get a tutor 2-3 hours a week 1-on-1. It’s what the rich are doing with Kumon, Sylvan, C2C, etc. The kids getting suspended mirror those sent to prison. Most of the whites in prison are rural, which is where most of the suspended whites are. Black males, foster kids, all have high rates of prison. We need tutors and mentors to break the cycle.

  7. Andre Griggs 10 months ago10 months ago

    What I found is not only the suspension but also the expulsion rates of black students that are important issues. It’s also the high recidivism and low reintegration rates, getting students back in school and on a success track to graduate so they won’t make the same mistakes in life.
    It’s creating long-term restorative alternatives to provide students with tools and skills that focuses on positive thinking, healing and true restoration.