Gothamist Article: Black Students In New York City Public Schools More Likely To Be Suspended Than Whites, Latino, or Asian Kids.
Black students comprise just a third of the NYC student body, but they serve more than half of the suspensions, according to a new study [pdf] by the NYCLU and the Student Safety Coalition. And even though the total student population decreased over the past decade, the number of suspensions served each school year nearly doubled. The most punished students were the disabled; the study found that students with disabilities are four times more likely to be suspended than students without disabilities. And the report contends that black students served longer suspensions on average and were more likely to be suspended for subjective misconduct, like profanity and insubordination. In youth culture, that’s known as “cursing while black.”
The NYCLU cites studies that show that students who are suspended tend to be suspended repeatedly, until they either drop out or are pushed out of school. And according to the report, thirty percent of suspensions occur in March and May of each school year when students often are taking exams. The NYCLU, which obtained the raw data through Freedom of Information law requests, argues that all this adds up to an academic culture that sets up blacks and disabled students to fail.
“Education is a child’s right, not a reward for good behavior,” NYCLU Executive Director Donna Lieberman says. “Sadly, the growing reliance on suspensions in New York City schools all too often denies children – often the most vulnerable and in need of support – their right to an education. This harsh approach to discipline, combined with aggressive policing in schools, pushes kids from the classroom into the criminal justice system.” City Education Department spokeswoman Natalie Ravitz says, “We have a discipline code that we follow with regard to student infractions, coupled with student support services. Race is not a factor in suspension decisions.”
The Daily News puts a human face on the story by interviewing one Myles Ephraim of Forest Hills, whose 13-year-old won was disciplined for playing with a souvenir baseball bat. Ephraim says five students were playing with the bat, but his son—the only black child in the group—was the only one punished. “It was almost like it was written for television,” Ephraim tells the News. “Aside from anger, there was a sadness. It was a sign of what our son would have deal with for a long time—forever.”