Education Disparities for Minorities, Report Finds

Academically challenging classes, experienced teachers and moderate disciplinary policies are housed in affluent white school districts, leaving minorities on the fringe, according to a U.S. Department of Education survey.

“In general, the data shows students of color, students whose first language is not English and students with disabilities are, according to a number of indicators, not getting the same opportunities to learn as their classmates who are white, first language is English or who do not have disabilities,” U.S. Secretary of Education John King Jr. said of the findings. “These statistics are not just numbers. They represent the educational experiences of real students, whose lives are affected in profound ways by what goes on in their schools.”

The Department of Education released the 2013-2014 Civil Rights Data Collection (CRDC) survey from 95,000 schools, nearly every public school in the nation, which hosts around 50 million students.

Disparities in treatment based on race are shown throughout the survey, with numbers indicating that the majority of disciplinary actions were focused on students of color.

The 2013-2014 survey shows that 49.7 percent of students attending public schools are non-white, with nearly 25 percent Latino, 16 percent Black, 5 percent Asian, and 3 percent who identify as two or more races.

Since the DOE last released CRDC survey results in 2012, suspension rates have dropped 20 percent. However, the 2013-2014 survey shows stark disparities when it comes to who receives suspensions. Black children only account for 19 percent of the preschool population yet make up 47 percent of preschool students disciplined with one or more out-of-school suspensions.

In K-12 schools, a Black student is, statistically, nearly four times more likely to face suspension than a white student. Male students who are Latino, American Indian, Asian and other mixed races are also more likely to receive suspensions. However, data shows only Black females are disproportionately suspended. Students with disabilities also see heavier discipline than average white students.

Catherine Lhamon, assistant secretary for the Office of Civil Rights, thinks “the overall reduction of suspension is gratifying,” calling the evident and continuous racial inequalities “not surprising but dismaying That is the hardest nut to crack; it is something we are seeing our schools aggressively working on.”

The presence of authority figures varies among school districts as well. 42 percent of high schools in the U.S. have an employed law enforcement officer, but that number rises to 51 percent in predominately Black and Hispanic school districts.

Data shows 1.6 million students attended a school that employed a sworn law-enforcement officer but not a counselor. Patterns also show that Black students have a significantly greater chance more than two times as likely of being arrested at school.

Other employment discrepancies among schools with high Black and Hispanic enrollment are present within the survey as well. For over 10 percent of Black and Hispanic students, more than a fifth of educators were in their first year of teaching, compared to only 5 percent in mostly white schools, showing the lack of experienced teachers offered to non-white school districts.

Data also points to a lack of colored students attending schools that specialize in high-level math and science courses. Inconsistencies in educational practices based on color remain a huge issue in the U.S., and the 2013-2014 CRDC survey highlights the problems.

King is more than aware of this crippling issue, saying, “our systematic failure to educate some groups of children as well as others tears at the moral fabric of the nation.”

This data will be utilized by the public in the fall 2016 school year via GreatSchools, a website that has been used as a resource for students to view test scores as well as demographic details that aid parents in picking the right school for their children.

These findings come out about a month after the Government Accountability Office released its own study, which concluded that the number of segregated schools across the nation has doubled since 2000. The research also found that students attending high poverty schools with predominantly Black and Latino populations often do not fare as well as their counterparts due to factors such as lack of resources, limited advanced course options and disproportionate disciplinary rates.

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