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NAACP wants answers as to why more blacks are supended/expelled


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http://www.knoxnews.com/kns/local_news/article/0,1406,KNS_347_4325701,00.html

Reason fewer white students face suspensions, expulsions not clear

By ERICKA MELLON, mellone@knews.com

December 18, 2005

Tennessee schools last year suspended and expelled more black students than whites, even though the state has far fewer black students overall.

The numbers published by the state Department of Education show a clear gap between the discipline rates of blacks and whites and of males and females.

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"These statistics just show that something needs to be done sooner rather than later," said Dewey Roberts, president of the Knoxville branch of the NAACP.

A News Sentinel analysis of the state's 2004-05 Report Card found:

# Black students made up 25 percent of the population in Tennessee schools last year, but they accounted for 55 percent of the suspensions and expulsions.

# White students made up 70 percent of the population and received 42 percent of the suspensions and expulsions.

# Male students were suspended and expelled more than twice as often as females. Of the state's 86,692 suspensions and expulsions, 58,699 went to males and 27,993 went to females.

The numbers could include a student who was disciplined more than once, according to a state department spokeswoman. The state reports only the number of disciplinary actions, not the number of unique students disciplined.

# In Knox County Schools, the statewide trend held true. Blacks made up 14 percent of the student body but 35 percent of suspensions and expulsions. Males accounted for 69 percent of the disciplinary actions.

"It's very, very disturbing from our perspective, from the NAACP's perspective," Roberts said. "We really feel like there's something that needs to be done to address the disproportionate number of African-American students who are being suspended or expelled."

In late March, Roberts and the NAACP of Knoxville asked the Knox County school board to increase training to help teachers manage students from urban backgrounds. The majority of teachers in Knox County and across the state are white females.

Russ Oaks, spokesman for Knox County Schools, said the district offers several training opportunities for teachers, including an academy for all new inner-city teachers and a two-day diversity conference every summer.

Rachel Woods, spokeswoman for the state Department of Education, said state officials cannot deny the racial gaps, but they cannot explain them, either.

"We can see the data and see that minority students are being suspended more, but we don't have any way of knowing why that happens," she said. "I would think that a lot more would have to be done with the data to determine whether or not you're looking at an issue that's racially based."

Woods said the higher suspension and expulsion rates among blacks might have more to do with their traditionally lower income level, which might contribute to their bad behavior.

The economic status of suspended and expelled students was not available for the analysis because the state does not require local school districts to report such information.

Nor do district have to report both the race and the gender of the disciplined students, Woods said, so the state does not know, for example, how many black males were suspended. The state only knows how many overall blacks were suspended.

Woods said the state department offers all districts training for dealing with students from poverty.

"You might find that some teachers are out of their comfort zone," she said. "And so we're trying to work with those teachers to provide them with professional development tools that they can use to address types of behavior in the class that maybe 20 years ago was not an issue for them."

Representatives from several school districts interviewed for this article denied any racism or discrimination, but none could explain why blacks were suspended or expelled at a much higher rate than whites.

"I guess anytime anyone looks at numbers, you start looking at the equity," said Tom Shamblin, director of Alcoa City Schools. "But you can't just turn your back on what's happened just because this particular group has had so many, so we can't suspend them anymore. Consequences still must be handed out.

"But to why there's more in one group than another, I can't answer that. I don't know."

In Alcoa last year, blacks made up 26 percent of the student body but accounted for 46 percent of the suspensions and expulsions. Specifically, there were 32 disciplinary actions involving blacks and 38 involving whites.

The trend was similar in Oak Ridge. Larrissa Henderson, who oversees disciplinary actions as Oak Ridge's director of pupil services, said she did not know about intentional discrimination by teachers and principals.

"I can only speak for Oak Ridge. That may be the case in other school systems, but I don't think that's the case here," Henderson said.

Memphis City Schools, the largest district in Tennessee, had the most suspensions and expulsions last year - a total of 25,481. Most of those disciplinary actions were handed out to blacks, but blacks make up a majority of the student population.

Vince McCaskill, spokesman for Memphis City Schools, said the district is trying to cut down on its total number of suspensions and expulsions.

But state law requires students to be expelled if they commit so-called "zero tolerance" offenses, which consist of bringing a weapon to school, assaulting a teacher or possessing drugs.

"The district is trying to move away from suspending students for, let's say, absenteeism," McCaskill said. "It doesn't make any sense to suspend a student that doesn't want to be at school.

"So we have implemented what we call our blue-ribbon behavior plan, which essentially allows us to really use alternative discipline measures, including in-school suspensions."

The racial and gender gap apparent in Tennessee's suspensions and expulsions is similar nationwide.

Dan Losen, senior education law and policy associate at The Civil Rights Project at Harvard University, has studied suspension data reported to the U.S. Department of Education.

Not only has the number of suspensions gone up over the last 30 years, he said, but the gap between blacks and whites has doubled.

"The sort of entrenched stereotypes about black males I do think plays a role," said Losen, a former classroom teacher. "There are always going to be bigoted people in every profession. But by and large, most people are not blatant racists. So something else is going on.

"There is unconscious bias, and I think that's been pretty well documented," he continued. "The question is, to what degree does that affect your decisions? The more we try to clamp down on every violation of school codes, these kinds of subjective influences are going to have an impact."

Losen said he doesn't want to blame teachers, but he thinks more training is needed, and principals need to promote a culture that all children can learn and deserve to be in school.

"The first step is to say, these racial disparities are profound in ways that suggest there's something inadequate about the schools," he said. "We don't accept it for achievement. Why should we accept it for discipline?"

Ericka Mellon may be reached at 865-342-6334

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"We can see the data and see that minority students are being suspended more, but we don't have any way of knowing why that happens," she said. "I would think that a lot more would have to be done with the data to determine whether or not you're looking at an issue that's racially based."[/

Don't Tell the NAACP that. They are already behind the notion that it is racially motivated.

As far as the expulsions are concerned, the article stated that "state law requires students to be expelled if they commit so-called "zero tolerance" offenses, which consist of bringing a weapon to school, assaulting a teacher or possessing drugs." So, if it is "zero tolerance" how can it be a racial issue?

Basically this chapter of the NAACP sees more of a benefit to attack the school system than the students who act up.

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"The numbers could include a student who was disciplined more than once, according to a state department spokeswoman. The state reports only the number of disciplinary actions, not the number of unique students disciplined."

Example, 1 student gets suspended 5 times + then expelled = 6 discipliary

actions from one individual.

So the simple number (meaningless) that is given does not necessarily prove racial bias. It could easily be the same number of individuals (white, black).

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This is a fine example of a poor database strategy failing to turn data into useful information. This question would be EASY to solve if the information kept was put together right. You'd query the system for similar offenses (including frequency of offense) and view the penalties. If a trend pops up you'd see it immediately. However, this crappy system in place leaves too many questions open.

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As far as the expulsions are concerned, the article stated that "state law requires students to be expelled if they commit so-called "zero tolerance" offenses, which consist of bringing a weapon to school, assaulting a teacher or possessing drugs." So, if it is "zero tolerance" how can it be a racial issue?

It can be a racial issue because they say it is and if they say so, therefore it must be.

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NAACP wants answers as to why more blacks are supended/expelled

Dear NAACP,

More blacks are causing trouble in school. That is why they are being expelled more.

Oh, you want to know WHY they are causing more trouble? Blame it on rap music.

I think that they know this is a possibility, but notice how they focus on the teachers training to handle "inner-city" (read economically challenged)

kids. I'm all for the training, but what I'd like to see from the NAACP, I actually wrote them a letter 2 years ago about, what is the NAACP doing to educate thier constituants about family values, obeying the law, staying in school, birth control, and obstaining from drugs and alcohol. I suggested that they recruit some famous and wealthy African Americans and spend money on education thru the media on the above topics. Of course I got no responce.

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This is a fine example of a poor database strategy failing to turn data into useful information. This question would be EASY to solve if the information kept was put together right. You'd query the system for similar offenses (including frequency of offense) and view the penalties. If a trend pops up you'd see it immediately. However, this crappy system in place leaves too many questions open.

bingo

Most of the States IT boards for edcuation are complete jokes, mainly people with no IT background. There was an issue here in VA near or in Richmond where they gave all the kids laptops at schools, and then tried to auction them off when they were going to buy new ones, it turned into such a circus.

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There is SOMETHING going on, not just in Tenn, but nationwide. As an educator I can say that it goes MUCH deeper than this. I am also black, and proud to say that I have never been suspended or expelled. I don't have enough time to explain my thoughts on what the problem is. Oh yeah, I like my rap as hardcore as possible, and I like gangster movies.

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That is just pure ignorance, do we have a problem with white kids having relations with their cousins, it happens in country songs :laugh: :laugh:

My wife listens to country music and I can say that 0% of it that I have heard had anything to do with cousin sex.

I listened to rap music when I was a kid and I was suspended all the time. Ergo, it MUST have been the rap music! :-0

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http://www.hrw.org/reports/2000/usa/Rcedrg00-01.htm

Blacks comprise 13 percent of the national population, but 30 percent of people arrested, 41 percent of people in jail, and 49 percent of those in prison. Nine percent of all black adults are under some form of correctional supervision (in jail or prison, on probation or parole), compared to two percent of white adults. One in three black men between the ages of 20 and 29 was either in jail or prison, or on parole or probation in 1995. One in ten black men in their twenties and early thirties is in prison or jail. Thirteen percent of the black adult male population has lost the right to vote because of felony disenfranchisement laws.

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I was actually having this discussion with my supervisor the other day. I work at an afterschool program at the Salvation Army (tutoring/mentoring kids) and one of the programs they offer here is kids who are suspended have the option of going to the Salvation Army that day of suspension. Anyway, my supervisor told me that out of 60 kids who were suspended in Wicomico County for the month of October, only 2 were white. He said that is typically the trend too.

I think a lot of it is not because the kids are black but because the black children typically come from lower incomes while most teachers are middle class whites...they just have a hard time dealing with these kids and instead of adjusting to them, they send them straight to the office.

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I think a lot of it is not because the kids are black but because the black children typically come from lower incomes while most teachers are middle class whites...they just have a hard time dealing with these kids and instead of adjusting to them, they send them straight to the office.

:stop::stop: Wait a minute. Are you honestly trying to pin these rates on a lack of understanding on the TEACHER's part?

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http://www.hrw.org/reports/2000/usa/Rcedrg00-01.htm

Blacks comprise 13 percent of the national population, but 30 percent of people arrested, 41 percent of people in jail, and 49 percent of those in prison. Nine percent of all black adults are under some form of correctional supervision (in jail or prison, on probation or parole), compared to two percent of white adults. One in three black men between the ages of 20 and 29 was either in jail or prison, or on parole or probation in 1995. One in ten black men in their twenties and early thirties is in prison or jail. Thirteen percent of the black adult male population has lost the right to vote because of felony disenfranchisement laws.

So are you implying this is a result of racism? Maybe a disproportionate % of black males commit crime vs. white males?

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bingo

Most of the States IT boards for edcuation are complete jokes, mainly people with no IT background. There was an issue here in VA near or in Richmond where they gave all the kids laptops at schools, and then tried to auction them off when they were going to buy new ones, it turned into such a circus.

That was not in Richmond - it was in the counties outside of the city.

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bingo

Most of the States IT boards for edcuation are complete jokes, mainly people with no IT background. There was an issue here in VA near or in Richmond where they gave all the kids laptops at schools, and then tried to auction them off when they were going to buy new ones, it turned into such a circus.

It was in Henrico County, my school was one of those involved.

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Well obviously the statistics don't look favorably to blacks as a group. This is OBVIOUSLY due to past discrimination and present reverse discrimination which imo prevents possible correction of the mistakes of the past.

Can you expound further? Past discrimination forces people to commit crimes? How so? Please be specific. Also, which reverse discrimination do you speak of? I don't want to put words in your mouth so I'd like you to stop speaking in generalities and put your belief out there for all to see.

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Can you expound further? Past discrimination forces people to commit crimes? How so? Please be specific. Also, which reverse discrimination do you speak of? I don't want to put words in your mouth so I'd like you to stop speaking in generalities and put your belief out there for all to see.

I am not talking about this on an individual level, but on the group level I have an example.

There are two different breeds of plants, one (lets call them A) can grow very robust and tall and the other is shorter and more fragile (lets call them B).

Half of the A and half of the B are put into a pot of soil rich in nutrients.

The other half are put into another pot that lacks a sufficient amount of nutrients.

In the first and second pots there is a small amount of variability between individual plants but there is a tremendous amount of variability between the different pots. In the good pot they are all much taller than the plants that are put into the crap pot.

What does that mean? That information tells us that blacks are not neccessarily different than other races because of genetics (I think some book called the Bell Curve tried to prove otherwise and failed) so we are left with non biological factors, Biological factors are important, but environmental factors are very important and can play a bigger when it comes to success (or whatever we are talking about).

Now what environmental factors am I talking about? Well namely the fact that blacks were undoubtedly second class citizens de jure and de facto until very recent history. They are no longer second class citizens (small amounts of racism still exist though), but they are still suffering from the effects of it, (such as not having connections like long running family business, inheritance etc). Unfortunately this has caused the "reverse" discrimination I talked about. By that I mean both racism from blacks to others, and the racism brought about by well meaning white people against themselves. This allows people to use past discrimination as an excuse for more things than it deserves.

So basically, past discrimination places blacks in 2nd level status and the reverse discrimination prevents them from getting out of it.

So what I am saying is that if you paint a bunch of white kids black and they grow up in that environment then the consequences will be exactly the same. Actually, they don't even need to be painted they would have very similar results if they were just in a similar environment.

Or so I think, I am not sure

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I think in Liberty's post he is close in that the circumstances these black kids are brought up in contribute to the situation,though it does no exscuse actions by the kids.

Or I could be all wet :D ,

I am just a hienz 57 living in a sea of hispanics,WTH do I know.

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