The Corner

More Distortion from the Ed Department on Racial Discipline Disparities

The U.S. Education Department released yet another study Friday documenting the fact that black students are suspended and expelled at higher rates than white students. The Obama administration and civil-rights advocates routinely trot out this disparity to justify a strong federal hammer against allegedly racist school districts.

This latest Civil Rights Data Collection Snapshot includes preschool suspension rates for the first time, and they, too, are racially skewed: Black preschoolers are 42 percent of the students suspended once, and 48 percent of the students suspended more than once though they are only 18 percent of preschool enrollment. Pre-K suspensions are exceedingly rare, however: Fewer than 5,000 students out of over 1 million preschoolers were suspended once in the 2011 school year, 2,500 students more than once. 

The media and the civil-rights complex responded on cue with the usual handwringing about racial “inequity.”

“To see that young African-American students — or babies, as I call them — are being suspended from pre-K programs at such horrendous rates is deeply troubling,” Leticia Smith-Evans, interim director of education practice at the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, told the New York Times. (Ms. Smith-Evans ignored the fact that “such horrendous rates” only affect a little over a thousand black “babies” nationwide.) “It’s incredible to think about or fathom what pre-K students could be doing to get suspended from schools.” 

Actually, what Ms. Smith-Evans should be trying to fathom is the black crime rate, which explains the school-suspension rate. Black males between the ages of 14 and 17 commit homicide at ten times the rate of white and Hispanic males of the same age combined. Given such high crime rates, what do the civil-rights advocates and the Obama administration think is going on in the classroom — docile obedience and strict self-discipline? In fact, the same weak impulse control that leads to such high crime rates among young black males inevitably means more disruptive behavior in school. 

Also on Friday, the New York media reported that a 14-year-old boy riding a bus in Brooklyn the previous night had opened fire on the bus and fatally shot an innocent 39-year-old passenger in the head. Did anyone doubt the race of the killer, even though the media did not disclose it? Blacks commit nearly 80 percent of all shootings in New York City, even though they are only 23 percent of the population; whites commit less than 2 percent of all shootings in New York City, though they are 35 percent of the population. The chance that that young bus killer was a model pupil, quietly paying attention in class and not disturbing his fellow students and teacher, is close to zero. (Follow-up stories revealed that the shooter was a member of Bedford Stuyvesant’s Stack Money Goons crew, and had been moved to open fire when three members of the rival Twan Family boarded the bus.)

If the civil-rights industry refuses to acknowledge the behavior that leads to disparate discipline rates, it is even more resistant to confronting the root of both the black school discipline and crime problems. In many urban areas, the black illegitimacy rate is well over 80 percent. Boys growing up without fathers are overwhelmingly more likely to lack self-discipline and the ability to control their anger than boys growing up with married parents. And those behavioral problems show up early. School administrators have been reporting rising violence among ever younger students for years. “We see aggressive behavior from kindergarten up,” Lawrence Jointer, the director of hearings for the Alexandria, Va., school district told the Washington Post in 2012. Student behavior has been worsening over the last four decades, he said. 

None of the federal studies mention or control for single-parent households, of course. Instead, we are supposed to believe that well-meaning teachers, who have spent their entire time in ed school steeped in the doctrine of “white privilege” and who are among the most liberal segments of the workforce, suddenly become bigots once in the classroom and begin arbitrarily suspending pacific black children out of racial bias. Oddly, the civil-rights industry never accuses schools of being biased against boys, even though males are as over-represented among disciplined students as blacks. In this case, there would actually be a colorable basis for making such a bias charge, since teachers are indoctrinated in anti-male ideology throughout ed school. Nevertheless, everyone accepts gender disparities in discipline, and not only because no one gives a damn about males these days. It is simply common sense that boys are more likely to be aggressive and impulsive than girls. Given the black–white crime disparities, it is equally common sense that black students are more likely to be disruptive in class as well. 

The refusal to take student behavior and family breakdown into account in interpreting student discipline rates means that more millions of taxpayer dollars will be wasted suing hapless school districts for phantom racism and sending teachers and administrators back to anti-racism training. The advocacy and anti-bias training complex cleans up, while the root cause of student misbehavior still goes unaddressed.  

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