New Public school policy; Special treatment only given to non-white students

all-on-equal-footing

It’s not fair. Those were the first words that came to mind when I was punished by a teacher at school. I was convinced that the teacher “had it out for me”. I must have said or done something wrong to get under this teacher’s skin. Well, for students in Minneapolis public schools, it actually ISN’T fair. The extent of a student’s punishment will no longer solely be determined by the child’s wrongdoing; it will also depend on the color of their skin. Public schools in Minneapolis will be implementing a new policy aimed at eliminating the gap between the races when it comes to suspensions. This new policy is part of an agreement with U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights. White students will not see a change in the way disciplinary action is taken; they will still be suspended at the discretion of the school’s principal. If a student is black, Hispanic or Native American, they will be getting unique treatment. The schools superintendent’s office will personally be reviewing each of those cases.
The superintendent of Minneapolis public schools, Bernadeia Johnson, told NPR, “I and all of my staff will start to review all non-violent suspensions of students of color, especially black boys, to understand why they’re being suspended so we can help intervene with teachers, student leaders and help give them the targeted support they need for these students.”
In a press release regarding the new policy Johnson’s office said, “Moving forward, every suspension of a black or brown student will be reviewed by the superintendent’s leadership team. The school district aims to more deeply understand the circumstances of suspensions with the goal of providing greater supports to the school, student or family in need. This team could choose to bring in additional resources for the student, family and school.” Her statement insists, “MPS must aggressively reduce the disproportionality between black and brown students and their white peers every year for the next four years. This will begin with a 25 percent reduction in disproportionality by the end of this school year; 50 percent by 2016; 75 percent by 2017; and 100 percent by 2018.”
Suspension rates for non-white students reaching far higher levels than those of white students is not a new phenomenon. In San Francisco, black students composed 11.9 percent of the total enrollment but accounted for 42.5 percent of out-of-school suspensions and 60 percent of all expulsions. The Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights also found that, blacks, who comprise 16 percent of the total school population, accounted for 27 percent of students referred to law enforcement in the 2010-11 school year and 31 percent of students subjected to a school-related arrest. But why is there such a gap between white students and the Native American, Hispanic and black students? Is it simply because teachers are racist? A study done by the Journal of Criminal Justice says quite the contrary. They wrote, “In subsequent analysis, the racial gap in suspensions was completely accounted for by a measure of the prior problem behavior of the student.” The study concluded that, “these findings highlight the importance of early problem behaviors and suggest that the use of suspensions by teachers and administrators may not have been as racially biased as some scholars have argued.” In other words, poor parenting and broken homes are more responsible for bad behavior than skin pigment.