Racial Differences in How Schools Deal With Disciplinary Problems

298px-Pennsylvania_State_University_seal.svgA new study led by David Ramey, an assistant professor of sociology and criminology at Pennsylvania State University, found that public school districts with large Black populations had significantly higher rates of suspensions and expulsions than school districts with predominantly White populations. The study collected and analyzed data from 60,000 schools in 6,000 school districts across the country.

The results show that disciplinary problems in school districts with large Black populations were more likely to be reported to police and other law enforcement authorities than was the case in predominantly White districts. The study also found that school districts with large Black populations were less likely than predominantly White districts to consider medical or counseling treatments for behavioral problems.

Dr. Ramey notes that “for the same minor levels of misbehaviors — for example, classroom disruptions, talking back — White kids tend to get viewed as having ADHD, or having some sort of behavioral problem, while Black kids are viewed as being unruly and unwilling to learn.”

Dr. Ramey states that “there’s been a real push toward school safety and there’s been a real push for schools to show they are being accountable. But, any zero-tolerance policy or mandatory top-down solutions might be undermining what would be otherwise good efforts at discipline, and not establishing an environment based around all the options available.”


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