African-American Boys Suspended Three Times More Than White Boys

Black boys are nearly three times as likely to be suspended as white boys in many of the nation’s middle schools, according to a new study, which also found that black girls were suspended at four times the rate of white girls.

The study, “Suspended Education:Urban Middle Schools in Crisis,” written by education researchers Daniel J. Losen and Russell Skiba, was published this week by the Southern Poverty Law Center. The authors used Department of Education data covering four decades of suspensions, drawn from 9,220 of the nation’s 16,000 public middle schools.

Huge Gap Between Black and White Suspensions

They found that on average 28.3 percent of black males were suspended at least once during the school year, compared to 10 percent of white males, while 18 percent of black females were suspended, compared to 4 percent of white females. Taking all demographics and schools together, the average suspension rate was 11.2 percent.

The authors also looked at 18 urban districts more closely and found the average suspension rate was 22.2 percent. Two districts revealed especially high rates: in Palm Beach County, Florida, and Milwaukee, more than 50 percent of black male middle school students were suspended at least once in 2006, according to the study.

Blacks No More Disruptive Than Whites

Alarmingly, the study also notes that there is, in general, no evidence that racial disparities in school discipline are the result of higher rates of disruption among black students. In that case, what is the reason for this huge racial difference?

With recent studies linking middle school suspensions to later incarceration rates, it seems important to find out why this is happening. Federal law requires schools to expel students for weapons possession and other incidents involving serious safety issues. But according to Losen and Skiba, the increase here can be linked in part to the rise of zero-tolerance policies. In an earlier study, it was found that in one state only 5 percent of suspensions were issued for serious or dangerous incidents; the remaining 95 percent were labeled “disruptive behavior” or “other.”

Is Suspension The Answer To Disciplinary Problems?

In any case, is there any evidence that suspensions actually work? Several students I’ve known in the past have been happy to be suspended so that they can stay home and play video games. And, in general, the kids who are given the day off this way are usually the ones who really need to be in school.

Maybe educators should re-think their approach to discipline.



Allan Y.
.7 years ago

Suspension rarely works. Parents work, they either have to to take off work, or find someone to watch their kid. In school suspension is an alternative. They don't miss what is going on in class, and they are forced to stay in school.

jane richmond
jane richmond7 years ago

Punishment should fit the crime -- same for all people regardless of race,religion or country of origin.

Kathy Wilson
Kathy Wilson7 years ago

Suspension just gives the child a day off which they love. It is like a reward..Making them go to school is more of a punishment. Give them extra homework or extend their days IN school. Snow days are made up, behavioral days should be also. If you have issues you need to have extra days tacked onto your school time, or hours, whichever works in your district. Don't reward them for acting out.

Heather G.
Heather G7 years ago

jack, insulting people is not a very effective way to convince them to see things from your point of view.

Carlos L.
Carlos L7 years ago

Suspension of student doesn't address behavioral problems, if there are any. It's like putting the dust under the carpet and the forget about it and hope that it doesn't come out again.

Bryony Kirkpatrick

This is like the 'spurter' theory. Sociologists told teachers that random children were 'spurters'. The teachers then encouraged those children, told them they were 'spurters', focused on them. The children then did better in a test than all the other children in their class, regardless of whether they were actually 'spurters' or not.

Unfortunately, there is a horrible stereotype that black people, especially young males, behave worse than white young people. Society expects them to behave worse and so they do. We respond to what is expected of us. If you have a teacher with a slight prejudice (whether they know it in themselves or not) who expects a black child to behave badly, over reacts when they misbehave once, it will continue in a viscious cycle as the child then begins not bothering to behave themselves as they know they are expected to behave badly. I've definitley seen this behaviour - it's the same with social class. The more working class the child, the moe likely they're expected to misbehave, doubt about all the other factors that cause them to misbehave.

Of coarse these kids are more likely to end up in prison. It is so sad.

Jack T.
Jack T7 years ago

Jae: "Jack T. you say that Care2 is so anti-American along with other Anti stuff,then why the hell are you here."

To try and convince people like you that being un-American is not acceptable. (BTW Your lack of punctuation makes your diatribes almost unintelligible. Do you also speak without taking any breath?)

Starlite M.
Starlite M7 years ago

Working in a diverse school that had a zero tolerance for bad behavior, it could be the lower income schools that have that type of discipline. If you attack the teacher (this includes throwing something at her/him) you get suspended.
So without physical discipline what should the schools do for acts of violence, You don't think that threaten a teacher or student with words, fist or other things warrants a suspension??

AS the principle told me that this school needs order, that they have a life filled with uncertainly with the home live, and I can tell you stories of kids that slept on the floor because they had to stay with their aunts/friends/family. Hard to learn that way! But if they know that they need to act a certain way most times they do.

I am not dismissing that maybe some of the suspensions are race driven but think that like others here think that they use did this blanket study not looking into things like area, income levels and diversity because it at a school with 70% of whatever ethic background sure there will be more of that ethic suspensions.

Thing I can't stand is was this something my tax dollars went to and paid for? Something that was half done to cause problems NOT fix them...
So hopefully they are working on a program that will help the students instead of suspension. And Not in school suspension where they sit in a room all day and stare at the walls...

Tamila mendoza
Tamila mendoza7 years ago

What is the ratio of whites to "African Americans"? Punishment should be the same for all colors.

Heather G.
Heather G7 years ago

race is a not a "card" to hold in your hand and play when it suits you. it's an in-your-face reality for EVERYONE, and pretending that it isn't keeps it that way.