by Max Brantley
I can't link it, but you perhaps saw an article in the paper this morning that said the federal court desegregation monitor had raised serious questions about the Pulaski County School District's compliance with desegregation orders. Bad news for those who want the district declared "unitary" and out of court. Many hope that will spell the end of state dollars for desegregation and the separation of a Jacksonville school district from the county.
It was pretty serious stuff, seemingly flagrant violations of the court orders in the case. 1) Disproportionate disciplining of blacks, males particularly 2) and failure to provide the promised number of seats for black Little Rock students in the new elementary school in the rich and white Chenal Valley neighborhood.
I heard a KUAR interview with, I believe, the Pulaski School Board president, who says the day is past where racial breakdowns on school suspensions should be used to judge a school district. Well, today's U.S. Supreme Court probably would agree with that were this a fresh case. But it's not. The county is bound by an existing order and the School Board members airy dismissal of it tells you a lot about the entrenched attitudes in the school district.
Numbers do mean something, don't they? Are Pulaski County black kids really so bad that they merit 65 percent suspension rates in a school district that is 44 percent black? One in every two black males is suspended during the year. Is it possible that teachers are more prone to feel threatened by and punish action by black students than white students?
I ask you, the discerning readers. Shudder.
UPDATE: In response to comments, please note that the suspension rates are NOT compiled by counting multiple suspensions of the same student. So, if 50 percent of black males were suspended that means every other black male in a school was suspended at least once during the year.