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Texas suspends/expels 60 percent of middle and high school students, majority being black and Latino

LatinaLista — Today’s release of the Nation’s Report Card: Geography 2010 showed that 12th graders not only had the least improvement in geography scores but the percentage of students at or above Proficient was lower in 2010 than in earlier assessment years.

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The reasons for the high school seniors doing badly ranges from bad teaching to students being uninterested but thanks to another study, the reason might be something else entirely — some of them may just not be in school long enough to learn.

A new Texas study titled “Breaking School Rules: A Statewide Study of How School Discipline Relates to Students’ Success and Juvenile Justice Involvement” found that the second largest school system in the nation suspends or expels almost 60 percent of their middle and high school students.

It’s a good guess that Texas isn’t the only state overdoing the removal of kids from the classroom.

The analysis tracked one million students over a six-year period, from seventh to twelfth grade. Three take-aways from the research revealed: boys are disciplined more often than girls; zero tolerance policies do nothing to keep a campus safe and there is a gross imbalance of who gets suspended and expelled.

According to the study, of the one million students selected for tracking, 51 percent were male and the ethnic breakdown was as follows: 14 percent African American; 40 percent Latino and 43 percent White/not Latino. Yet, the majority of who got suspended and expelled were African American students.

One table in the report shows an interesting disparity:

White students were more apt to be assigned in-school suspension for their first violation (86.5 percent vs. 71.5 percent for Blacks and 79.1 percent for Latinos.)

While Black students were more apt to be assigned out-of-school suspension for their first violation (26.2 percent vs. 18 percent for Latinos and 9.9 percent for whites.)

Latino students committed the highest mandatory violations (defined as meeting the definition of a felony like the illegal use of a gun or sexual assault on school property) at 7.9 percent vs. African Americans at 7.2 and whites at 5.3 percent.

Overall, the researchers found that 75 percent of both black boys and girls experienced school disciplinary action between 7th and 12th grades as opposed to 65 percent of Latinos and 47 percent of whites. Also, “African-American and Hispanic students were more likely than white students to experience repeated involvement with the school disciplinary system or multiple school code of conduct violations.”

The report finds that the more a student is singled out and disciplined in school the likelier that they are held back a grade and/or don’t graduate. But the vast majority of these students disciplined by administrators and sent to either in-school or out-of-school suspensions were found that they didn’t violate rules mandated by the state to warrant their removal from the classroom. Rather, they violated the code of conduct that is implemented on each campus. The violation was determined by the educator on site.

In other words, while some actions clearly do warrant removal or discipline, there could be just as many students suffering the prejudice or disdain of a teacher. The repercussion of that scenario is that once kids start getting into trouble with school officials, it’s not long before they start getting involved in the juvenile justice system and thus begins the school to prison pipeline.

The report goes on to document that it’s not only students of color suffering the brunt of school removals but special education students as well.

With drop-out rates consistently high, a bleak educational outlook for our future workforce and the documentation of how ineffective and detrimental “zero tolerance” policies are, this study should serve as a blueprint in how to reform our public education system — and serve as an alarm that reform is the key to help our students today.

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