Study Finds School Districts Are Not Doing Enough to End Racial Disparities in Discipline

According to the U.S. Department of Education, Black students are three times more likely to suspended than White students. A new study finds that school districts across the country are not taking appropriate steps to deal with the racial disparities in school discipline.

The study was authored by Muhammad Khalifa, an assistant professor in the department of educational administration at Michigan State University, and Felicia M. Briscoe, an associate professor of educational leadership and policy studies at the University of Texas at San Antonio.

muhammad-khalifaDr. Khalifa says that “school districts are deeply complicit in the oppression of some groups of students.” He found that many school districts viewed his research as threatening and refused to provide data on school discipline by race. “Essentially, district administrators were not comfortable engaging in discussions about race,” the authors wrote. “They interpreted it as a threat, and this likely prevented them from actually addressing the problem.”

Dr. Khalifa joined the faculty at Michigan State University in 2011. He is a graduate of the University of Michigan and holds a doctorate in educational administration from Michigan State University.

The research, “A Counternarrative Autoethnography Exploring School Districts’ Role in Reproducing Racism: Willful Blindness to Racial Inequities,” was published on the website of the journal Teachers College Record. It may be accessed here.


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  1. Dr. Martha Taylor says:

    I concur with your rationale given by schools not wanting to talk about the disparities suffered by minority students compared to their white students. There is not only a disparity between discipline, it also flows into the disparity in how the children learn and the test used. Constructivist learning should be explored to decrease some of the disparity between how students learn and are tested. Great Work you’ve done.

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