A new report released by the Department of Education further reveals what many African American parents and students already knew: that Black students –- as well as students with disabilities — are still suspended and arrested at much higher rates than their schoolmates.
Mother Jones is reporting that in spite of these findings, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos is still considering rescinding an Obama-era rule meant to curtail the disproportionate punishment of students of color.
Some unpleasant numbers
According to the Department of Education, 2.7 million K-12 students were suspended at least once during the 2015-16 school year, the most recent year for which data is available. Of those kids, Black students made up 15 percent of students enrolled in schools across the country but accounted for 39 percent of those suspended out of school at least once.
Black boys, who make up just 8 percent of the student population, accounted for 25 percent of suspensions, while black girls — also 8 percent of students – made up 14 percent of suspensions.
Of the nearly 121,000 students expelled during the 2015-16 school year, Black students accounted for 23 percent. Black students were also overrepresented among those who were physically restrained, more likely to get arrested at school, and more likely to be secluded in rooms in which they were prevented from leaving.
The findings come weeks after a report by Congress’s nonpartisan watchdog agency, the Government Accountability Office, that showed that in the 2013-2014 school year, Black students accounted for 15.5 percent of all public school students but represented nearly 40 percent of students suspended from school.
The Trump administration has also called for more police and armed teachers in school following the Parkland shooting. Suspensions and expulsions can ultimately lead to a loss of instruction time that could students of color at an even bigger disadvantage than their peers.