by Max Brantley
New data from the U.S. Education Department shows that black students, particularly boys, face harsher discipline in school than other students. They are suspended and expelled disproportionately and also arrested or referred to law enforcement more often. If they reviewed the dwindling number of states that use corporal punishment, they'd have found the disparity existed in that punitive category as well, based on our past reviews. Arkansas, too, reflects a disproportionate corporal punishment rate for black students. From the NY Times account:
“Education is the civil rights of our generation,” said Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, in a telephone briefing with reporters on Monday. “The undeniable truth is that the everyday education experience for too many students of color violates the principle of equity at the heart of the American promise.”
Disparities are not restricted to discipline. Schools with heavy minority enrollments tend to have fewer advanced courses and less experienced teachers. Minority students are also underrepresented in advanced courses.
Again, I have no doubt that when the full stats are released later this week that Arkansas districts will mirror — if not be even worse — than the national experience. Here's one past example illustrating disparity in discipline, AP participation and classification as gifted or mentally retarded.