Analysis Finds Higher Expulsion Rates for Black Students

Aug 25, 2015 · 246 comments
David (London)
This article, the authors of the report, and many commentators here, have presented the 'findings' as a scientific study. It is not; it is pure polemic accompanied by tables. It could have come straight out of 'Through the looking glass', where the Queen calls for the verdict first, then evidence.

The only evidence presented is of the proportion of Black boys (and girls) expelled/suspended compared with the proportion of Black boys (and girls) in various schools. This shows that more Blacks are expelled/suspended than their numbers would indicate ALL THINGS BEING EQUAL. A proper sociologist would then examine the factors behind this discrepancy. The authors of the study don't. For them, any discrepancy is unjust; for them, the sole reason must only be racism. This is not science; this is dogma.
Just Thinking (Montville, NJ)
Is is possvioe they are merely more disruptive ? Sometimes, a cigar is just a cigar....
Janis (Ridgewood, NJ)
I don't know why this is so surprising. There have always been more suspensions, expulsions, in tough city high schools vs the burbs, etc. Criminals do not develop overnight. Parents who are not there physically or emotionally breed trouble and then the teacher is expected to handle it. There is a ton of misplaced anger as evidenced in Ferguson Missouri, Detroit, South Chicago, etc. We don't need a study.
Jill Abbott (Atlanta)
Ask any teacher in this area of the U.S. which kids are the most unruly, insolent and disturb other classmates. Then make your calculation.
George (NJ)
I see most of those who commented focused right in on the nature of the problem. I was offended by the article because the implied point of the article was that the extra suspensions of black students was because of racism. In fact it's because of their behavior. Going easy on misbehaving students by eliminating such things as no tolerance policies, or tying to use counseling is not going to work. It will only lead to greater misbehavior as students see that they can basically get away with it, and at worst will only have to "apologize" to the teacher for, for example, cursing them out. This problem starts in the home and is a societal problem, and it's not going to be solved in the schools. More important I think than worrying about the rate of suspensions of black students is to ensure the safety of teachers and students, and to make sure that the proper atmosphere for learning is maintained.
maryAnn Preston (N.Y.C)
You sound like an out and out racist yourself. You don't think that white kids misbehave in school all kids misbehave but all kids are not treated equally
third.coast (earth)
[[“This is at least partly attributed to people having these racist assumptions about black kids,” Mr. Harper said.]]

The one thing I didn't notice in the article is the percentages of black teachers and administrators in these schools and districts.

EDITORS: Do you have that information?
Francis (USA)
My experience at a five digit tuition private school in Winter Park, Florida does suggest racist behavior. My son is in his fifth year at this school and his experience with their academics matches their well deserved reputation. Other experiences match those about which Motoko Rich writes. About a year ago, while in the dining room, an employee emerged and, in the presence of students reprimanded my son for stealing food. He intimidated him into paying for foodstuff (a drink) that he did not have. My 14 year old went to school authorities and upon review of the videos for that period there was absolutely no reason for this loud and public accusation. The kid had water in a flask which he carried from home and while being accused he provided opportunity for his accuser to examine items in his possession. His money was returned and I understand that an apology was made. This white man remained present on school premises for the remainder of the year where my black male child continued as a target for him and his type. Those in authority are defending this man. The school did not have a phenotypically black person on academic staff save for a college counselor. Much has been written on the increasing segregation of schools. It does seem as though segregation may seem muted as we watch those who leave the premises. The treatment within the walls are racist, polite and destructive.
Yoda (DC)
your story is a single incident. YOu cannot extrapolate that out to a whole population. Just as I cannot do so regarding my experiences where I have seen black teenagers committ more infractures than whites and get punished less.
Jill Abbott (Atlanta)
If you are convinced of what you say, remove him from the school instead of complaining and suggesting that addition of more "phenotypically black person[s]" to the staff is the answer to your son's problems.
Lynne Hollander (California)
Although there is a missing piece of information -- whether the rates are different for the same offenses (such an obvious variable that the researchers must have thought about it) -- the fact that in districts where school personnel had no discretion on certain offenses, white students were more often suspended or expelled certainly strongly suggests racism is a major factor here..
Mary (Atlanta, GA)
Sorry, but experience does not agree with the conclusions brought by the 'data' which is of course presented based on a conclusion before the study started. That's how grants are handed out these days. Especially today.

But I've watched as my home town HS has devolved into a nightmare. Once in the top 5 in the state, because of section 8 and a mass exodus out of Detroit, the student body is now over 50% black. They show no respect to the teachers or principle. Worse, they push white kids into lockers, down stairs. And have even grabbed arms and blocked whole hallways to make everyone late to class. The graduation rate has plummeted and the SAT scores are a joke.

The school has police on each floor and the whole school has become a crime zoon. Thanks Detroit for destroying the city and moving it populous to the suburbs. Thanks section 8 for subsidizing so many families so kids can go to 'good' schools. Thanks for the continued destruction of a place that used to be safe and produce good citizens.

Blacks are suspended at higher rates because they are taught to disrespect authority. Starting with their single moms and no dads. Sadly, blacks that do want to achieve must hide in the shadows or face the same treatment. It doesn't take a majority to destroy, only a persistent minority never held accountable.

This article is a joke and shame on the continued efforts of the elite educated to use select statistics to drive a conclusion that doesn't exist.
F Walker (Ft. Worth)
Principal not principle
Yoda (DC)
the NAACP needs to address the issues you point out instead of engaging in racial scapegoating.
This report behind the article is just that, a report of data. There is no analysis as stated in the article's title. What were the students expelled for? Is there a correlation between student expulsions and FBI violent crime statistics for the races? How many minority expulsions were the result of the presumably unbiased actions by minority teachers and administrators? NYT your journalistic standards were once better than this.
michjas (Phoenix)
One further statistic would help shed light on the allegations of racism. The disparity in suspensions by black teachers and principals needs to be compared to suspensions by white teachers and principals. I have taught in a poor, mixed race high school in North Carolina. Plenty of the black teachers were very strict with the black students and may have suspended as many black students as the white teachers. Also, when the faculty is 50-50, black and white, the black teachers keep an eye on what happens to the black kids and will let the principal, the union, and black parents know when black kids are wrongly suspended. If the schools studied had sizable black faculties, as mine did, and/or a black principal, this kind of flagrant racism just could not exist because the black staff members would not sit for it. And, in the rural South, in any school that has a high black student population, there will be plenty of black teachers and principals. It's not like white out-of-towners are looking to relocate to poor, heavily black Southern towns where night life revolves around the churches.
Floyd Hall (Greensboro, NC)
I have taught in these schools and the misbehavior of the black kids is of an altogether different magnitude than that of the white kids. At the same time, there is no functioning disciplinary system because the schools are too underfunded to afford such luxuries and the black kids come from lousy elementary and middle schools. I came to North Carolina after 5-6 years of teaching in Ohio. Most of the black kids I had at my first school in Charlotte -- sophomores -- were 4-5 years behind grade level, something I never saw in Ohio. Meanwhile, the detention room in a school of more than 3,000 kids was limited to 40-45 kids. When the detention monitor called in sick, which was maybe once a month, the entire school knew it by the end of first period. After than it was just crowd control. Teaching was beside the point.
DP (atlanta)
A red flag but at this point not enough information about the data to determine if:
1) black and white students are being treated differently for the same infractions.
2) if the higher expulsion and suspension rates are linked to different types of behavior deemed unacceptable by these schools and school districts

And, of course, we need to know if the students respond to teachers and administrators differently which can lead to different outcomes.

We can draw better conclusions when we see the full analysis.
Yoda (DC)
We can draw better conclusions when we see the full analysis.

and if the NY Times presents a decent objective analysis. Very rarely does the NY Times do this when issues of race are involved. Look at its disgraceful coverage of Michael Brown. Racial apologia at its best.
Damyn (NYC)
If your saying whites or others are being given a pass for misbehaving and blacks are not, then there is a disparity in the adjudication of discipline. However, if black students are engaging in more serious violations that warrant a suspension; then there is a disparity of black students committing more serious violations. The fact they would be suspended at higher rates is simple math and not racism or unequal treatment. Currently, there is a big push for the false narrative that this country is inherently racist. How does a black man born to an immigrant father and from basic means become the President of the United States of America? "Hard work, that's how!" What holds the black community back is not systemic racism. It's liberal policies and a lack of personal accountability.
San Fernando Curt (Los Angeles, CA)
"...Students who are expelled or suspended are more likely to have later contact with the juvenile justice system." Wouldn't that follow - if the students really were disruptive troublemakers? Couldn't it be true - a wild stretch, I know - that all-purpose white racism may NOT be the major factor here, that it's really keyed mostly by poor behavior of the students involved? Everything in this country tells us that to succeed, we must have an education. White and Asian parents seem to accept this at higher proportions than other ethnic groups, so they make high-investment parenting integral part of their households. Constantly, we're told blacks and Hispanics constant chronic struggle is against evil white privilege (and that of Asians, as well, if we look at all the evidence instead of applying stagnant ideology). Could it be the biggest struggle facing these non-white populations is against themselves?
fritzrxx (Portland Or)
Blacks are usually poor. Crime is higher in poor communities.

Any surprise there?

The author should have said offered evidence that their relatively minor infractions made these black students' suspensions amount to being picked on. But the author only implied that.

Granted, another complication enters the situation all 13 states named as offenders were former slave states, which had Jim Crow laws until the 1970s.

But keeping all analytical possibilities straight is the job of a NY Times reporter
Lisa Rice (Maryland)
I am not sure why you state that Black children are usully poor. Can you explain that? Most Black children are not poor, so your statement is a bit perplexing. I am an African-American mother. I faced discrimination while a student, despite graduating in the top 5% of my class and then going on to graduate with honors from college. My good behavior and good grades did not insulate me from bias. My son, nieces and the children of my friends have also experienced bias. All children will act up from time to time, regardless of their color. But when White and Black children exhibit the same poor behavior and it is the Black children who suffer major punishment while the White children are let go with a minor rebuke, that is not fair and it is discrimination plain and simple. I attended school in the state of Ohio as did my son in his formative years. When your 6 year old child comes home and tells you that he wishes he were White because the teacher likes the White kids but does not like the Black kids, you know this is coming from something ugly that your child is experiencing.
Ed (Maryland)

About 40% of black children live in poverty. Certainly it's not a majority but it's a sizable minority.
Teacher (NY)
Wow, readers really don't want to acknowledge institutional racism! This article does not surprise me one bit. Americans seriously need to explore their own biases, which is uncomfortable work, and understand the racism that is ingrained in our educational (and other) institutions in order to try to ensure all students have access to a sound education. I am an educator of middle and high school students in a high-needs school where 100% of my students receive free lunch. I work with some people who are completely blind to their biases. While these southern states are the subject of this particular study, institutional racism occurs throughout the country. What may start out as the same behavior can escalate based on unconscious personal bias which and the student then meets the ingrained institutional bias which ratchets up the incident. You may start with the same behavior in two students, one white and one of color, but the outcome will be entirely different. If you are unaware, as a person in a position of power (teacher, administrator, law enforcement, etc.), of your biases, you may not understand how you are part of the problem or how you contribute to the escalation of an incident. From your perspective, it may be the student's fault. Additional social/emotional training and a more diverse workforce would help. So would educators who are experts in trauma-informed teaching with the resources they need to really help!
Just Thinking (Montville, NJ)
If one looks at the per capita rate violence by race, ( which would seem a sensible predictor ), the it is surprising that the expulsion rate is not higher.
jacques (new york,ny)
Your analysis is flawed. There is no evidence that any of the suspensions were related to school violence, which you assumed because the students expelled were black. Or even the proportion of expulsions that were due to violence. There are several reasons that could lead to a disciplinary action, but the nature of the disciplinary action taken is the topic of this study as black students are often expelled at a higher rate even for minor offenses.Also you mentioned the per capita violence rate but that is a population rate that includes all blacks from all ages and economic status that is not necessarily the same as the violence rate of black teenagers in a school setting. I hate to call you ignorant but unfortunately I have to because that is an ignorant, prejudicial comment.
Scott (Busch)
His analysis is flawed only because there is no national data on adults doing things like cursing at a teacher, disrupting class, or cheating on a test. There is national data on things like murder though, and if black adults are killing people at rates 8 times higher than whites and steal at rates 16 times that of non-Hispanic Whites then it should't really surprise us that they'd be misbehaving at school at a similarly disproportionate rate. And lol at the study not looking at the suspension rates of other racial minorities. Wonder why that could have been?
Lisa Rice (Maryland)
You are totally off-base. My son was going to be expelled from his school when another child, who happened to be White, played a prank on him. The child stole another student's lunch and "gave" it to my son. When the other child came back to the lunch table and found my son eating his lunch, he complained to the lunch monitor who turned my son in to the principal, despite my son stating that he was given the lunch by another student. Neither the lunch monitor nor the principal initially believed my son. When I met with the principal about the incident, and the principal was able to verify that my son was telling the truth, because of course, other students witnessed the incident, the principal then scolded my son for being too trusting and gullible. The principal was more than ready to suspend my son, who is Black, but did not suspend the White child who actually stole the lunch. Differences do indeed exist.

My son had to deal with issues that other children typically do not face. For example, my son was called racial epithets and had to sneak to play with some of his friends who did not want my son playing with their children because he is Black. I believe my son has learned to handle these situations with decency and grace.

People have biases that play out - and against - children on a daily basis. This is in no way an excuse for children who indeed need discipline. But to take the perspective that there is no bias in our educational system is beyond naive.
simon (MA)
Could it be that black students are actually committing more infractions??? This is a no-brainer. Proportions of people will never reflect their exact numbers in the population in anything~
jacques (new york,ny)
You didn't understand the study. Yes it is possible that blacks are committed more infractions but the study was about the disciplinary action imposed on students of different races based on the same infractions. It is a controlled study that only compares the punishment and the likeliness that a black student gets suspended for the same behavior as his white counterparts.
David (London)
Jacques, the study was published after this article was written. Nowhere in this article does it describe controls analysing the infractions of students by race and the punishments meted out.
On the face of it, we have a collection of facts about expulsions/exclusions by race but no analysis of why there are disparities. Of course, there are some people who have the unshakeable belief that all disparities are due to 'isms', e.g. racism and sexism. There is no arguing with such beliefs!
tb (Georgetown, D.C.)
Attending school is required by juvenile judges and probation officers, turning inner-city publics into de facto holding cells for thousands of troubled delinquents who have zero interest in an education.
samredman (Dallas)
To brand a race because of the behavior of a particular group of misbehaving students is blatantly unfair.  To anyone familiar with the classroom situations which result in disciplinary action it is well known that a pervasive obstreperous culture is primarily what is disrupting the order in urban schools.  It is not a racial problem.

Many teachers make special efforts to help any black children who want to distance themselves from the malcontents who discourage academic achievement by daily initiating and promoting classroom disorder.

The small percentage who can escape the societal pressure and physical intimidation go on to remarkable achievement levels. Those achievers prove that the rate of expulsions isn't a black problem, but a cultural aberation.

Labeling justifiably expelled miscreants as blacks amplifies existing inappropriate stereotypes. It is the achievers who deserve the mantle of representing their race.

By distinguishing this classroom behavioral crisis as a subcultural phenomenon and not a racial issue we could more readily change the focus to ways of correcting the causal factors which foster and perpetuate self destructive behavior.
Jenny (VA)
As a research analyst myself, I know how easy it is to manipulate statistics to create a sensational outcome. I'm not saying that's what happened here but I would be cautious in directly attributing this finding to racism alone. It may very well be a contributing factor but other socioeconomic factors are likely also having an impact on this outcome. I would be more interested in looking at what percentage of kids who are suspended or expelled are being raised in single parent families living at or below the poverty line.
Ed (NYC)
My view of racism is this: Claiming that a person is bad because of his/her color/race/religion is racism.
Similarly, claiming that a person *good* because of his/her color/race/religion is also racism.
I went to school in a city that went from white to black and remained there through sophomore year of HS. The white students (in my school) were generally well behaved and mostly respectful of the school and teachers. The vast majority of black students (definitely not all - just most) were not. Fistfights, knife fights, throwing objects during the lessons, tearing books, laughing, carousing, making out, disrupting, etc.
If a teacher were perfectly and honestly color blind, many of the black students should have been suspended and very few white students. Again, my grade school and HS, not all schools, cities, etc., etc.
Is it racism? Not when it is fact based.
While some of the causes may have been due to many factors, including race based factors, in class, the disruptions were caused by blacks, not whites.
Calling objective facts racist, is itself racist.
You will never fix a problem if the fact of the problem is considered taboo.
Gary Broughman (Florida)
I'm amazed at how quick Professor Harper is to label people he doesn't even know "racist." And the Times lets him get away with it without comment. Obviously, he thinks the hard working men and women who serve every day in our public schools are stupid zombies who are slaves to their subconscious biases. Modern sociology says to understand any situation you have to immerse yourself in the empirical situation--in the particular. Numbers tell us nothing. We don't know if Mr. Harper himself is a racist, but we do know he is a poor sociologist. But I guess this is the new state of "truth" on the liberal side. If it suits our propaganda purpose there's no need to examine assumptions or conclusions. As a long time progressive and, BTW, active supporter of civil rights, I am distressed to see how we are picking up the habits of our opponents on the right. If it suits our arguments, why bother with a close examination of our "facts." I guarantee this: it will cost us support from thinking voters.
Kristy (New York)
It would be more accurate to interpret Professor Harper's published sound byte as speaking to a system of racial discrimination, akin to a system of gender discrimination, akin to other systems of discrimination. These systems of discrimination indeed victimize people, in this case, people of color but more specifically children of color. As an African American educator, I have the job of making a safe space for all of the young people in my care to grow and become successful. To do so, I have to recognize the systems that may impact my capacity to help my students, and I have to work consciously and deliberately to transcend those systems that undermine my intentions to be an effective educator. That's the job of any educator--to look themselves in the eye and to transcend their own biases for the betterment of ALL students. If we are ever to become a just society, all students must have educators like that in their corner.
Torri (NYC)
While I agree that there are lingering questions about the data (which, by the way, we have not seen yet), I find it troubling that so many people have resorted to comments that undeniably label Black males as disruptive and unruly, and by comments that place the blame solely on poor parenting in poor communities. Personal accountability is extremely important, but that personal accountability does not fall solely at the feet of Black America. White America: continue to deflect blame. Never look in the mirror. Never question the systems and structures that are in place that perpetuate racism in America. Do not question housing practices or bad schools that have been failure factories for decades. Instead, blame the “poor parents” who make “poor decisions” and tell Black America that it’s not about race. Trick yourself into believing that racist practices have nothing to do with the correlation between zip codes and achievement. Many Black students who come from poor communities are “at risk” but the risks they face are not only from the remnants of condensed poverty. The risks are also from being educated by people who think so poorly of them, who vilify and demonize them, who judge their parents, and who have such high levels of low expectations, that they are doomed to reach the pinnacles of mediocrity that keep them out of white America’s backyard and in “the hood”.
Joe (Iowa)
You're right! I'm white and I don't question any of those things you mention. All I do is get up and go to work every day to support my family, follow the law, and teach my children how to be responsible. I don't have time to worry about "systems and structures".
Kristy (New York)
That's great, Joe! Keep doing what you're doing, and be comforted in the fact that millions of people of all colors are doing the same exact thing despite all kinds of odds. For some of those people, those odds are greater than you or I have to contend with. Our children are blessed in that regard.

While the author does make slight mentions of behavior and punishment, what this article does not emphasize is that our society cannot afford to ostracize any of our children. (If certain kids "deserve" to be expelled, where are they going?) Indeed, our society would benefit exponentially in opening doors for all children, and those open doors cannot be conditional based on anyone's perceptions of African American or any other children.
Charles W. (NJ)
" Instead, blame the “poor parents” who make “poor decisions”"

Shouldn't that be "poor PARENT" since over 70% of black children live in single parent households?
Lisa Rice (Maryland)
I totally agree that students that exhibit poor behavior and violate the rules must be disciplined. But as a mother of an African-American son, I witnessed too many instances in which the school system wanted to wrongly suspend or punish my child. On one occasion, a White student played a prank on my son by offering him someone else's lunch. My son, unaware of the prank, accepted the lunch with gratitude. When the true owner of the lunch returned to find my son eating his meal, the student reported my son to the principal, who wanted to suspend my son - despite my son explaining what happened to him. In a meeting with the principal, at which I was present, he chastised my son for being so gullible and, of course due to my advocacy, revoked the suspension. You can believe that I chastised the principal for not believing my son. The principal admitted that stealing was completely out of character for my son, especially since my largest complaint with the school was asking them to help me ward against my son's largesse. I have a child who wants to help everybody and would often use his lunch money ( which was contained on a school credit card) to purchase food for his friends. When I asked if the child who actually played the prank and stole the other students' lunch to give to my son would be suspended, all I was told was that the student would "dealt with". That student was never suspended.
Lise P. Cujar (Jackson County, Mich.)
I think a better study would include all minorities. Let's break it down by sex. Is it unfair if more boys than girls are suspended or expelled? Could it be that the disparity in discipline rates between whites and blacks is because of the greater rate of children born out of wedlock and living in single parent households for black children? We know from studies that kids are far more likely to succeed if they are raised in an intact family. Maybe this is the key rather than race.
trucklt (Western NC)
I read this article twice. The authors should be examining the races of the students committing suspendable offenses and then comparing the punishments meted out to blacks versus other racial groups. If one racial group is committing the majority of suspendable offenses it is, of course, going to merit the majority of suspensions.

Having worked both in law enforcement and education, I can safely say that many students, of all races, do not respect authority figures in or out of school. Many seem to take pride in talking back or being openly defiant when asked to follow school rules. Their reflexive defiance is encouraged by their peers and is seen as being "cool." Instead of being firm and weeding these intractable "cancers" out of the classroom, most schools will go through the motions of endless warnings interspersed with in and out of school suspensions.

Enough is enough. It is long past time to stop wringing hands over drop out rates. If a student of any race continually refuses to comply with reasonable directives and established rules, either put them in an alternative school setting or let their clueless parents home school them.
barb tennant (seattle)
No one ever asks WHY they are being punished? Could it be that these kids are misbehaving, being disrespectful, not doing their work, slowing down the entire class? They cannot be being disciplined for no reason.
Biff (Albany)
One cannot simply compare shares of suspensions by race with shares of the population by race and draw any conclusions about racial bias. One must control for differences in behavior. The obvious question is whether a disproportionate share of the black students' behaviors were those that are more likely to lead to suspensions.
ADend (U.S.A.)
This does not surprise me. When I was in highschool a year ago at a school that was 96% white, 2% black, and 1% other, there were constant incidents involving the African American students. For some reason there was this rivalry between the black population and the Turkish population in the school which always caused some sort of violence involving and resulting inevitably in suspensions. In one instance, two black students attacked a Turkish student while he was passing them in the stair well of the school between class. I agree with the other user that the analysts should focus more on WHY the students were suspended and not on the color of their skin. Because as a headline, this just looks like some sort of attempt to make school systems look oppressive when in reality, mine was very equal opportunity but had strict rules against school violence.
James Bowery (Shenandoah, IA)
""This is at least partly attributed to people having these racist assumptions about black kids,” Mr. Harper said."

Even if Harper presented a 100% correlation with thousands of data points between the presence of "racist assumptions about black kids" and suspension rates of black kids, the social sciences, in their more honest moments, admit not only that the ecological fallacy could be at work in the ecological correlations, but that correlation doesn't imply causation.

For instance, what if "racist assumptions about black kids" are due to black kids behaving badly due to causes other than "racist assumptions" about them? "Raising consciousness" about the "racist assumptions" will do _nothing_ to help the black kids but it will render rational and compassionate people hostile to the misguided attempts to help black kids.

The big problem with the social sciences, thence statecraft, is the lack of controlled experimental conditions. This is a situation directly attributable to poor statecraft -- statecraft that forces to the central government all battles over theories of causation in human ecologies. These battles are conducted on the basis of correlations (if that) confounded by all manner of uncontrolled variables as well as ecological fallacies. Then, when one side is victorious in this battle to impose their social theories, the experimental subjects consist of the entire society including huge minorities that did not consent. Hate is the invariable result.
martin (manomet)
Rather than playing the numbers game, the University of Pennsylvania should question "why" these kids were sent home. In most cases color was not the reason.
Yoda (DC)
The university of Penn needs to do a better job at hiring professors. If any white professor made such a statistically falicious statement he would be expelled. Blacks professors are not (and probably gain tenure to boot). Reverse discrimination in universities!
John C. (North Carolina)
Having taught in Northern and Southern schools I can say that many suspensions due to discipline or dressing code are really not for those initial incidents but the violent confrontation these students exhibit when facing a Principal about the violation.
Cussing, swearing, threats (you name it) will come out of these students' mouths and sometimes physical altercations.
It is the disrespect for authority (same as a traffic stop) that leads to the escalated conclusion.
When researchers conduct these surveys and studies, they never look at the context just the conclusion. Unfortunately sometimes the context is not documented and that is why any problem I had with students was thoroughly documented by me in a journal.
In today's school any teacher that does not document these confrontations (with both student and parents) and also meetings about grades will find themselves fighting to keep a job and having to deal with surveys that prove nothing but make everyone look racists.
JD Larson (Milwaukee, WI)
“Suspensions and expulsions” tend to get lumped into the same metric, but doing so is akin to aggregating “fines and prison time.” Being suspended for a few days, while educationally pernicious in its own right, does not compare to the devastating effects of being expelled from the general education environment for an extended period of time, sometimes permanently. Education is a “property right” under the U.S. Constitution and thus requires a due process procedure for either suspension or expulsion. Too often this is ignored by school administrators or simply explained away to legally ignorant and frightened parents.

Pervasive and growing intergenerational poverty, particularly in large urban areas, fuels a growing population of children from homes in which there are no parent figures with histories of successful schooling. In turn, this fuels a population of children without the training and guidance to function successfully in the demanding social context of the school building. No amount of suspensions or expulsions, legally suspect or not, will solve the problem.

In order to reduce disproportionate suspensions and expulsions, schools need to get serious about teaching the requisite social and emotional skills necessary for children to effectively access the academic curriculum. Building a next generation of competent students is the best way to quiet those inclined to blame "culture."
barb tennant (seattle)
Always comes back to the destruction of the black family. Welfare, too many unwed babies, drugs and booze.....letting the feds "raise" these kids has been a disaster...where are the black pastors and ministers? WHY arent' they doing their job?
Dylan Burakiewicz (Western Mass)
The correlation to suspension rates and single parent households is astonishing.
Dan Stewart (Miami)
Sent this article to a friend who's an black educator and historian in Atlanta. He wrote back, some schools teach children to be future leaders, others schools teach children how to be middle class workers, and some schools prepare their children for prison.
Lise P. Cujar (Jackson County, Mich.)
Some parents teach their children to be future leaders, other parents teach their children to be middle class workers, and some parents prepare their children for prison.
Will.Swoboda (Baltimore)
There is also the possibility that minority students get expelled at a higher rate then other students because they don't abid by the rules as other students do. But to see every statistic through the prism of race is unfair to the minority students. In 1961 Dr. King gave a speech in which he pointed out that the black population in St. Louis, MO made up 13% but we're responsible for 54% of the crimes. He also said that there were lots of problems in the white society but that there were also lots of problems in the black society as well. People, regardless of their back rounds are to take personal responsibility for their own behavior. It really is that simple.
Charles W. (NJ)
"There is also the possibility that minority students get expelled at a higher rate then other students because they don't abid by the rules as other students do. "

The same situation would seem to apply to young, black males who seem to think that they have some sort of right to resist arrest.
Dave Dasgupta (New York City)
If the current crop of black leaders, starting from Mr. Obama to Rev. Al Sharpton (a notorious race baiter who has monetized race for a comfortable living for 30-odd years), really cared about Dr. King's message and paid attention to what he REALLY said about harmonious race relations, they'd by now remember (but deliberately choose not to) his emphasis not on the "color of the skin," but "content of the character." (I may inadvertently have the exact words slightly transposed, apologies).

Alas, affirmative action in the guise of pandering keeps young black students from truly recognizing the need for good education as the path to productive work and family, and the discipline one needs to get one. Compare an Asian-American kid with a black one from the same economic background attending the same neighborhood school, good, bad or indifferent, and you'll know right away the difference in attitude to academics and behavioral expectations with teachers. Not everything is about race as PC proponents would make us believe and thereby accelerate the slide to the bottom by insistently crying victimhood.

Until NYT, the U Penn education professors, and our political and community leaders recognize that discipline and willingness to learn are sine qua non for academic success, research funds spent on so-called scholarship to "fix" the problem would produce few insights.
luke (Tampa, FL)
There is less stability, on the average, in black homes. It follows there would be more disruption in schools.
Mr. Phil (Houston)
"...By contrast, in a study of students in Texas, Mr. Thompson and his co-authors found that in situations where laws require schools to suspend or expel a student — such as when the student brings a gun or drugs to campus — whites are more likely to be suspended or expelled than blacks..."
Three of the five largest cities in Texas have Mayors who are Democrats, and one is an Independent; go figure.
Mr. Phil (Houston)
Before ANYONE starts harping on the elitist-type comment. It was made specifically because Texas is a conservative state, viewed by the NE as being overall racist (and there are parts that are as with EVERY state). Yet work IS being done to address the issue to improve education standards across the board amid some of the asinine attempts by state legislators to implement their view of morality into the classrooms.
Jim (Virginia)
This article demonstrates why the US can't have an "honest conversation about race." Honesty would require a complete picture, useful statistics, and unbiased observation. The Times failed on all three counts. Many of the comments are a much more accurate reflection of the reality of disruptive behavior in the classroom. Race should not be an excuse for destroying the common good. When an account diverges so much from observable reality, I feel like I'm reading Peoples Daily.
vernont2 (Denver)
If only the study had controlled for blood lead levels in the students' past! While I doubt that lead exposure would be the sole explanation for the discrepancies, the behavioral challenges for lead poisoned children are well documented. Remember Freddy Gray.
Richard Stammer (Sarasota, Florida)
[Note: Richard is my husband. I am Jody]

I would like to comment on Mr. Harper's comment, “We argue that too little happens in schools of education to raise consciousness about that.”

I happen to teach social foundations courses at my university, and I create assignments and activities that cause my students to discover their unconscious biases. It is not comfortable for them. Many tell me they have never had a course like it and it opened their eyes to understanding themselves and institutional racism, among other things.

Sadly, the FL DOE and many other departments of education around the country are working hard to get rid of courses in social foundations as they kowtow to the latest educational fads of STEM, the so-called Race to the Top, and other business accountability measures.

We continue to graduate a very high number of White females who plan to teach, in spite of various attempts to diversify the teacher candidate field. These young women need to discover the hidden prejudices that they live by, but they are unlikely to do so when so many of the accrediting bodies and state legislatures care more about statistics measuring graduation rates, number in STEM, job rates, and money than they do about the caring qualities that must be a part of this profession. Add to that the latest fad of "trigger warnings" and students can avoid any topics that might make them uncomfortable. Guess what? Discovering your own racism is not comfortable.
Larry Gr (Mt. Laurel NJ)
Jody, spoken like a true academic who has probably hasn't been in a junior or senior high school classroom recently. Vague notions of unconscious biases are meaningless when dealing with disruptive, sometimes violent, students. And STEM is a much more important program for young people today than social foundations. I have a young female relative in college taking up engineering and doing great. Her motivation? STEM and robotics courses in high school.
Gregory Walton (Indianapolis, IN)
The classroom to prison pipeline within those states where there's voter suppression and that have the lowest education performance in the country. How many of these are also "red" states?
Derrick (Georgia)
So I'm wondering where the study is that shows that blacks were disproportionately disciplined over white students when both committed the same offense.
Mark (Indianapolis)
Before you get off trying paint these statistics as evidence of some kind of discrimination against blacks, perhaps you should sit in on some classrooms where the behaviors resulting in these expulsions are taking place. Young people are not being taught self respect, personal responsibility, or respect of others. This appears to be especially prevalent among black students. Why don't you write about why that is?
Victor Edwards (Holland, Mich.)
The fact that the analysis did not look at expulsion of other races is telling. Not one Indian was expelled, I suspect, nor any Chinese students, and likely not one Middle Eastern student. This "report" is one of the most biased I have seen, and reduces to some vested interest playing the race card for attention.

Let's talk about BEHAVIORS, not statistics. One can manipulate the data and pontificate in lofty terms, but it matters nothing until we see the behaviors that expelled students are committing. This is not about race at all.
sophiequus (New York, NY)
Center for the Study of Race and Equity in Education. Take a look at the link provided in the article (Center for the Study of Race and Equity in Education ). They would hardly be involved in a study whose findings that support their mission statement.
hk (philadelphia)
Shouting about some vague racism (by whom?) is so much easier than talking money, eh?

As an urban public school educator, I am often frustrated that students aren't suspended. Ex: A student walks into a classroom and punches a seated student in the face. She had been using her (banned!) cellphone and discovered that the other girl had said something about her. No suspension because, as the principal stated, "She's just too crazy to deal with." I could give dozens of similarly bizarre examples. I teach African American students and I have little doubt that they commit more infractions.

But here's the thing: My students don't commit more infractions because they were born African American. They commit more infractions because they're really angry about the traumatic events that mark their lives, and they're frustrated by continuing stress. They are sometimes homeless, sometimes hungry, sometimes abused. They sometimes come from homes with good, hard-working parents whose lack of education forces them to string together three jobs, leaving little time for parenting. And yes, all of THOSE factors are rooted in systemic racism that has created generational poverty..

To the Obama administration, and any politician who would charge racism, I say put your money where your mouth is. My students, of all students should receive the most resources. They should have the smallest class sizes, with the best-trained teachers who are experts in trauma-informed teaching.
Karla (Mooresville,NC)
Excellent comment. Very well-stated.
Rina (NYC)
Excellent comment!
JaimeBurgos (Boston, MA)
Thanks for speaking up. The kids you talk about need far more help and support than a regular classroom can give them. But it's much easier and cheaper to blame the schools than to do something about the violence and poverty these kids grow up in.
Good John Fagin (Chicago Suburbs)
“I am actually shocked that there is not more outrage,”
Perhaps you would be less shocked if you had to deal with black students on a regular basis.
I have contact with students of all races, ethnicities and socio-economic strata and the most disruptive, by a large measure, are black males.
Speculation on the cause of this phenomenon is beyond the scope of this comment, but its factual nature is, in my extensive experience, indisputable.
Straight Shooter (Great State Of Texas)
Of course this article is worthless because it fails to address whether differences in behavior account for this discrepancy. Good going NYT- stir that pot...
Dan Stewart (Miami)
"... students who are expelled or suspended are more likely to have later contact with the juvenile justice system than similar students who are not removed from school, studies have shown."

The other half of the story (not covered here) is that all these school suspensions and expulsions are the first steps toward the end game: prison. The ACLU calls it the "school-to-prison pipeline" and it's alive and growing across the nation, but is particularly pronounced in the Usual Suspect states, the 13 mentioned. Maybe the problem isn't the kids, but the states.
Ora Reed (Far Rockaway, NY)
Parents must step up to the plate and work diligently with school administrators regarding unacceptable behavior in the classroom. Until this happens, suspension(s) should remain in place in the schools code of discipline. Is there really an alternative that would work? I think not.
barb tennant (seattle)
black kids NEED to be in two parent homes with familes who care about them
NYHuguenot (Charlotte, NC)
One thing that has been consistent with Black students is the level of violence they will commit. In 1963 I was in two different Junior High Schools in Brooklyn.
That year I saw a group of Black girls in leather jackets beat up another girl who had flirted with one of the girls boy friend. They dragged her by the hair up and down the bus stop while the group stomped on her and punched her in the face.
In the other school fights on a level I had never seen White kids engage in were the norm. A White teacher was stabbed in the back with a pair of scissors. The one school was in a predominately Black area and there where were only a few of us White kids there and I never saw one of us in a fight.
In 1964 we moved to Miami and segregated schools. There the worst was a challenge to meet at the bicycle racks. A few punches and shoves and it was over. None of us would think of beating someone to unconsciousness.
In High school it was different. Again I was in the minority and the majority Blacks engaged in the same level of violence I'd seen in Brooklyn.
The punishments are more severe because the behavior is so much worse in the Black community.
mobocracy (minneapolis)
No economic comparisons made among groups of suspended students? I'd like to know the racial suspension rates when factors like socioeconomic status are factored in. Poverty makes for poor parenting which leads to poor behavior.

That the achievement rate of the school doesn't matter much isn't surprising. High achieving schools are likely to get a lot of pressure from parents of high achieving students who don't want their children's academic experience disrupted. Low achieving schools have high incidence of poverty and the weak parenting that goes with it.
C in NY (NY)
The actual report ( fail to provide some important piece of data.

We do not know how many students overall committed an act warranting suspension / expulsion, we do not know the racial composition of students who committed an act warranting suspension / expulsion.

We do not know whether, of all the students who committed an act warranting suspension / expulsion, some were given a pass whereas other were actually suspended or reprimanded.

Without these important pieces of information, it is really impossible to draw any conclusion. It might just be that 100% of dress code infraction were committed by minority students, leading to those students representing a disproportionate number of suspensions. Without knowing how many white student failed to comply with the dress code without being suspended, we cannot really reach any conclusion.
Karla (Mooresville,NC)
It's very frustrating to see/read articles like this that produces vague data, but automatically jumps to conclusions. I lived in a low-income neighborhood in North Minneapoilis for 20 years working with single-parent, as well as, homeless families. The community was 80% African American. It also had the highest homicide rate in the state. More than half of the children that I tried to help had given up and joined gangs. When I went into the homes of a lot of these children, they had a great deal of things in common. The fathers were entirely out of the picture, the mothers were rarely employed and the use of birth control was non-existent. Drug and alcohol addictions were also overwhelming. Too many had no high school degrees. The majority of teachers were also African-American. They expressed a great deal of frustration with the fact that too many children were entering with little to no basic reading, writing or math skills. What was depressing was how many kids openly admitted that they had given up. They saw no point in trying, they had no hope. They said they saw the gangs as their family. Most had dropped out or had been expelled. The children that did succeed? They were involved in any kind of program that could help them get out of the area. Those programs were and have been continually cut, whether at a local, state or federal level for years. Yes, racism exists. But, if that is the only topic discussed, then nothing will change for the better anytime soon.
comment (internet)
I wonder if those schools and teachers can help the kids learn one thing from their experiences: use contraceptives so that they don't bring babies to the world before they can care and support them. Forget about reading and math.
Lisa Evers (NYC)
I'd be the first to yell racism if I felt it to be so. In this instance, we have 13 southern states, a good number of which have large poorer populations. These populations are also more likely to have children out of wedlock. And I'm not talking about well-to-do single women or gay couples who planned to have a child and have the money and resources and social networks to ensure their child is well-adjusted. I'm talking about girls/women who have no job, no reliable man in their life, their own life is a mess, etc. Such girls/women have no business bringing a child into this world. and we all know what the end result is with kids who come out of such homes.

So then the question is, for these 13 states, I wonder what the racial breakdown is for kids who come from such single mothers. If it's about equal...just as many poor white girls/women are single moms as poor black women are, then indeed, this sounds like racism. if however these states have more black and poor single moms than white, then it would stand to reason that more young black kids are going to be messed up and with behavioral issues, if only because of their home enviromnent
cyclone (beautiful nyc)
Mr. Nielson, where is the proper guidance of the parents, especially the fathers?
Thomas D. Dial (Salt Lake City, UT)
The report that is the main basis for this article is rubbish, a fact that certainly should have been mentioned in the article and reasonably could have been its main point.

For instance: the report does not show the total enrollment for a state, it does not show the number of suspensions for each school system, and it does not show any significant information below the state level for expulsions. Percentages not anchored in numerical data are at best suspect and at worst evidence of deception.

Further, it fails to consider the reason for suspensions or expulsions, or suspension or expulsion policy differences between states and districts within states. Based on the information provided, the racial disparity might change or disappear. The OCR data used may not support such an analysis, but the report should have mentioned it if so, but did not.

There may be racial disparity in suspensions and expulsions, but the report does not show it; at most, it suggests the possibility. To call it an analysis is, charitably, an serious error. The authors should apologize for the quality of the report instead of their participation in "a system that continually disadvantages Black children, families, and communities" and their sorrow that "that schools of education and other sites where teachers and educational leaders are prepared and certified do so little to raise consciousness about the implicit biases that ultimately lead to trends such as those documented in this study".
Bayou Houma (Houma, Louisiana)
Does the study analysis find that the racial difference in student expulsions is the same for schools that have mostly all black teachers as well as all black students? Laws forcing racial integration of the public schools have been highly disruptive of black employment and family stability in many black neighborhoods. Since the sixties, extreme legislation to end white racist laws became also a legal tool, as some authors of the legislation called it, to end "racial imbalance" in the schools. The result in nearly every case has been the destruction of black community control of schools in black neighborhoods, usually by dividing black students into groups and merging them in predominantly white controlled and administered schools, as a minority of the students. Clearly such forced integration has not only sustained racial hostility, but when we see the low rate of black student expulsions in formerly black schools under black control with their high expulsion rates in predominantly white controlled schools, forced busing and forced destruction of black controlled schools seem the cause. Today it may seem legal heresy to integrationists, but forcing an end to black community controlled schools was often not a good way to integrate white controlled schools, not if it hurt black student motivation to learn. And which race lost most teaching jobs as role models when the schools were integrated?
Ed (Maryland)
Nonsense like this is why Trump has taken the political world by storm. It is completely unfathomable to the media, academia or government officials that maybe the reason why black kids are suspended more is because they behave worse.

Instead our supposed betters insist the disparity is due to discrimination. Has any of these people ever set foot in a school with a significant percentage of black students? The junior & senior high school I attended was diverse but black kids were the ones disrespecting the teacher, fighting & generally making the learning environment untenable.

Actually I should be more specific, American Black kids were behind these things. The African kids were generally better behaved at our school. What is so difficult about calling out black Amerucan culture?
jb (weston ct)
Why would anyone be surprised by this finding? As adults, black males commit serious crimes-including murder- at rates greatly exceeding their percentage of the population. Might it be expected that anti-social behavior is exhibited in the school-age population as well, or do some think that violent behavior just magically manifests itself at age 18 in previously well behaved children and teens?
ebmem (Memphis, TN)
Interesting that they focused on southern schools. The same statistics would apply in liberal states, but that would not feed the narrative.

Was there any attempt to make a correlation between whether the disciplined students were living in fatherless households. It is very likely that independent of race, the expulsions overrepresented male students who lived in fatherless homes.

Not everything is about race. Children who are poor are overwhelmingly being raised by women who have been abandoned by the fathers of their children.
Brad Windley (Tullahoma, TN)
Perhaps, just perhaps, this minority of students created the majority or at least a disproportionate percentage of infractions????????? Maybe the author should spend some time investigating the nature of the infractions and relate that to whose that committed them, then perhaps ask WHY?
Matt Williams (New York)
This was a conclusion backed by a study. It is clear from the study that it's authors had no intention of helping to reveal the real problem concerning black youth. Instead of looking at actions which I couldn't find anywhere in the report, they simply conclude it is racism. It's ALWAYS racism. Racism, racism, racism.

As long as influential blacks continue to shift the attention away from the likely true reason for black impoverishment (drug use, illegitimate birth, glorification of violent culture, etc) and instead attribute all the black person's woes to the oppressive white man, nothing in the black community is going to get fixed.
Mary (Atlanta, GA)
The study was authored by the Center for the Study of Race and Equity in Education. Did you think you were going to hear a different conclusion?!
charlie (new york city)
The unspoken assumption is that all teachers and school administrators are white which is racist. Was the ratio of Black and white teachers even considered? Black Americans comprise a vast and vital part of the teaching profession today and should be acknowledged for their contributions. From my limited experience, Black teachers are often stricter disciplinarians than their timid and intimidated white colleagues.
Mr. Joey B (Florida)
it all starts at home with the family in most cases. I have two grand children and almost certainly they will never be suspended because they have two parents consistently showing them what is expected. If i had a child that was a constant disrupt to the system i would look to myself or the child as the reason not blaming the system. one of the most important things is development of a child yet we think the government is the way to raise them. How has that worked last few decades?
Regina M Valdez (New York City)
Back when I was a teacher, I used to WISH my classroom could be videotaped. Having to convince parents that their child was indeed NOT a victim of my supposed racism, but rather an impediment to my instruction and the education of 30 other students was a adventure into absurdity. Petrified of being accused of racial bias, vice principals and principals are often loathe to mete out consequences for bad behavior. In full knowledge of their 'power' over craven adults, these students' behavior often goes beyond the pale. What adolescent, after all, doesn't push unclear boundaries?!

Having taught white, black, Hispanic and Asian students, I concur with the other commenters that factors other than simple targeted racism are at play. Simply stated, the classes I taught were most often disrupted by the African-American student population. Students in general are almost never suspended, since schools are now largely de facto child care centers.

I've had black students I've loved, and think of to this day. On occasion, I've run into them, and it's always been a joy. For their sakes, and for all students, NO dangerous behavior should ever be tolerated, by any student.

Racism is a scourge. Cries of racism where it doesn't apply is also.
Lee (Raleigh, NC)
I don't imagine that the learned sources for this article could ever bring themselves to admit that the high black student expulsion rate is due to the disruptive, undisciplined, and socially dysfunctional characteristics that these "students" bring to school in the first place. The schools and the other students are the victims in these repeated scenarios. Doubt what I say...?? Go attend a public school high school graduation ceremony in NC !!
AB (Rochester NY)
President Obama doesn't send HIS children to the largely black DC schools. What does that tell you?
Ryan Bingham (Out there)
Here's my daughter's story. Her middle school forbade cell phones and beepers for all students. Why? To stop middle school drug dealers, so a zero tolerance policy was put in place to avoid lawsuits. Figure the rest out.
Larry Gr (Mt. Laurel NJ)
A problem will never be solved unless you correctly identify the problem and are willing to accept that determination. Only at that point can you find solutions.

Knee jerk reactions automatically blaming racism will never solve this problem. A good start to finding a solution is looking at the vast majority of black boys who are not getting suspended or expelled and identify what is happening right in their families and environments, and use that as one of the starting points for a solution.

Bad behavior is bad behavior and must be addressed. If one or two students are disruptive to the students that want to learn the disruptive students must be removed from the classroom. This may sound harsh, but it is only fair and just that well behaved students have a quality learning environment that is not in constant turmoil due to a few out of control students.
samredman (Dallas)
To brand a race because of the behavior of a particular group of misbehaving students is blatantly unfair.  To anyone familiar with the classroom situations which result in disciplinary action it is well known that a pervasive gang culture is primarily what is disrupting the order in urban schools.  It is not a racial problem.

Many teachers make special efforts to help any black children who want to distance themselves from the malcontents who discourage academic achievement by daily initiating and promoting classroom disorder.

The small percentage who can escape the societal pressure and physical intimidation go on to remarkable achievement levels. Those achievers prove that the rate of expulsions isn't a black problem, but a cultural aberation.

Labeling justifiably expelled miscreants as blacks amplifies existing inappropriate stereotypes. It is the achievers who deserve the mantle of representing their race.

By distinguishing this classroom behavioral crisis as a subcultural phenomenon and not a racial issue we could more readily change the focus to ways of correcting the causal factors which perpetuate the self destructive "gangsta" culture.
sophiequus (New York, NY)
In my UWS community, there's been an uproar over two neighborhood public school, one affluent, one poor, and just 10 blocks away. The affluent school is bursting at the seams, the poor school only at 60% capacity. The NYC DOE directed those on the affluent school waiting list to attend the poor school. The parents were up in arms, until a report came out that the poor school was also "persistently dangerous." The DOE agreed to find other schools for those children.

But wait: Enter Chancellor Farina, whose solution is to change that designation of 'persistently dangerous' and say it never happened. She's going to visit the school and get rid of the designation. It's a creative and convenient way to get rid of the problem. Just say it never happened. How clever!
Dick Grayson (Atlanta, Georgia)
Or just blame the teachers.
Lewis in Princeton (Princeton NJ)
If children are not taught respect for authority and the value of a good education at home, conflicts with public school teachers and administrators in schools will be inevitable. This has much more to do with "attitude" than with race.
jpduffy3 (New York, NY)
You should also mention that, sometimes, that inevitable conflict with teachers and administrators also leads to disruption of the education process for other students, and safety issues, particularly if the offending student engages in aggressive behavior towards other students.
scott (New York)
Not if black students are being suspended or expelled for behavior identical to white students that are not being suspended or expelled, which other studies have shown to be the case, and is implied in this article:
"Michael Thompson, director of the Council of State Governments Justice Center, a nonprofit policy group, said blacks are more likely to be suspended or expelled in situations where teachers or school leaders have discretion in determining how to respond to behavior, such as when a student is deemed disrespectful or defiant or violates a dress code.
By contrast, in a study of students in Texas, Mr. Thompson and his co-authors found that in situations where laws require schools to suspend or expel a student — such as when the student brings a gun or drugs to campus — whites are more likely to be suspended or expelled than blacks."
EuroAm (Ohio, USA)
Right...if only black parents could/would teach, and if only black children could/would learn, displaying the "proper respect" to the redneck bigots in authority, then the ubiquitous and pervasive racist discriminatory persecution would be held at bay. Sure Wilbur... That's the same bull scat regurgitated during reconstruction...
Brand (Portsmouth, NH)
"In recent years, civil rights groups such as the Advancement Project and legal advocacy organizations including the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund Inc. and Texas Appleseed have focused on reducing arrests and other severe disciplinary actions in schools."

How about reducing the incidence of misbehavior - including criminal- by these students rather than simply reducing the punishment?
scott (New York)
This article is about unequal implementation of punishment for bad behavior- not reducing it.
joel cairo (ohio)
Truly distressing. The most perceptive part of the study is buried in the article in which it is revealed that white students are most represented when schools are required by law to expel students for violations.
NYHuguenot (Charlotte, NC)
We have all the "Zero Tolerance" programs to blame for forced suspensions and expulsions.
Gregory Walton (Indianapolis, IN)
I've noticed that when you're right, you receive very few recommend. Mr. Harper said. “We argue that too little happens in schools of education to raise consciousness about that”, meaning the racist assumptions about black kids giving sway to the predilection to expel them at higher rate without law mandating how to handle all disruptive behavior, whether it be Black or White child.
Josh Hill (New London, Conn.)
I am so tired of this ideological nonsense. What I want to see is whether black students are suspended or expelled at disproportionate rates, given their behavior. There is nothing in this article to suggest that they are.

Also, I would argued that it is far more important to protect the education and safety of the other students -- many of them also members of disadvantaged minority groups -- than it is to accommodate a violent or disruptive student in a normal classroom setting. Often, these politically-correct attempts to reduce punishment end up disproportionately harming the poor black community, as that is where most of the violence and misbehavior occurs.
SteveRR (CA)
Yes there is - you just chose to skip over it: "By contrast, in a study of students in Texas..."
scott (New York)
Other studies have shown definitively that black students are punished more severly than white students for the same behaviour, and this study implies it:

"Michael Thompson, director of the Council of State Governments Justice Center, a nonprofit policy group, said blacks are more likely to be suspended or expelled in situations where teachers or school leaders have discretion in determining how to respond to behavior, such as when a student is deemed disrespectful or defiant or violates a dress code.

By contrast, in a study of students in Texas, Mr. Thompson and his co-authors found that in situations where laws require schools to suspend or expel a student — such as when the student brings a gun or drugs to campus — whites are more likely to be suspended or expelled than blacks."
Gregory Walton (Indianapolis, IN)
Provide citation as to your claim the most violence and misbehavior occurs among the poor and black. Without fact, it's conjecture accentuated by racism.
First Last (Las Vegas)
I have always believed that expulsion is a last resort;only to be used if a child has commited a possible felony, or is highly disrupted. In school discipline, with the goal of having an "educational " experience i.e. write a coherent essay addressing the cause of the infraction. Each day in school, the child and society benefits. Our greatest asset are our educated children.
Charles W. (NJ)
"Our greatest asset are our educated children"

But what about those who do not value education and go so far as to attack those who do for "acting white"? As the old saying goes, you can lead a horse to water but you can not make it drink.
SD (Chicago, IL)
“'We want policy makers, parents and everybody to understand that any degree of disproportionality is in need of redress and response,' Mr. Harper said."

This sentiment is shocking coming from researchers at a prestigious institution. Any statistician worth his salt knows that disproportional outcomes for different groups is only a meaningful result when you've properly controlled for differences between the groups (e.g. poverty levels) and inputs (e.g. incidence of events that could lead to suspension, like fights). I looked at the actual analysis to see if any controls were used; none were. The fact that "black students are suspended or expelled at rates overwhelmingly higher than white children" isn't enough to show that any policy changes are necessary. It is, apparently, enough to grab headlines.
avwrobel (pennsylvania)
It's a big enough sample to draw some valid conclusions. Denying the outcomes is just what that is - denial.
atarxes (ri)
I don't think you understood the point. The researchers did not run an experiment.The study was about describing any gaps that exist. They mentioned that the gap/disproportionately should be looked into more, and finding its cause was not the primary aim of the study. (Plus, experiments are not easy to run or plain unethical when studying social issues. I still don't think identifying and describing the gaps needs an experiment though.)
Prender (Narrowsburg, NY)
It is denying the underlying causes of any disparity that exists. When there in no discipline at home there tends to be no discipline at school. The family unit, missing among much of the black community, tends to be the strongest influence on good behavior!
D (the south)
My kids attend public schools in a large urban district in one of the states in this report. The district is majority black, having suffered from white flight, and many of the administrators and teachers are African-American. I'm fairly certain that the district and the schools bend over backwards to keep the remaining white families in the district. That, in my opinion, probably has more to do with a relatively higher number of suspensions for African-American students.
Brand (Portsmouth, NH)
Nonsense. The numbers reveal that black students have higher rates of behavioral issues, period.
Victor Edwards (Holland, Mich.)
Ah, so it is whitey's fault. So white people should not be able to move out of a district if they desire to do so? I think there is a pejorative name for such thinking...
Laura Pinyan, M.S., Certified Nutrition Specialist (Southern California Mountains)
It would be instructive to see if they were treated comparably for comparable problems. Without knowing this we cannot assume racial bias. Often the problem may be acting out perhaps because many do not have, as Dr. Ben Carson has said, a high expectation of academic success, and perhaps this is one of the issues to further address using new approaches to reduce the cycle of behavioral problems and expulsions or social promotions.
Boston Benny (Boston)
This is a study that gets to the heart of the racial issues still plaguing the nation.
I've seen some commenters who'd like to blame this on economics, or even worse, "black kids act differently from whites."
If the problem is economics, the problem behind poor economic opportunities is racism. If the problem is people from different races act differently, it is racism.

We are all humans, race is an artificial construct of white people in the seventeenth century, created to differentiate themselves from the people they were conquering.
If we are wondering why racism is still a problem in this country, we only have centuries of institutionalized racism to look upon for answers.
Larry Gr (Mt. Laurel NJ)
Racism was going on long before the 17th century! Saying racism was created in the 17th century is a cute soundbite but completely untrue.
Ryan Bingham (Out there)
A lot of the schools in the south are majority black, with a majority of black teachers, run by black school boards. It's nothing like Boston.
Victor Edwards (Holland, Mich.)
Go to any sporting event in your city and you will see that black kids act differently from white kids. This is not speculation; this is obvious to even the most jaundiced racist observer. Stop denying this and blaming whites for the problems. Then maybe we might join in an effort to change behaviors in the black community.

Example: I live in a neighborhood for 50 years. When finally, in the last few years the area is changing and blacks have moved in. All of a sudden, for the first time in half a century, I now see blacks, both adults and children, walking and playing in the middle of the street. I have never in 50 years seen a white resident walking or playing in the middle of busy streets. This in an area that is replete with green space and parks galore. As the comedian says, "What's up with 'dat?"
CA (St. Louis)
I remember reading in the Washington Post last year a mother's first person account of her young child's repeated suspensions. "My son has been suspended five times. He's 3." It gives you an idea of the bias that can lead to black children being suspended more often than white children -- for similar behavioral problems. It's eye opening, and the practice appears to begin at a young age.
Michael R. (New York)
Correlation isn't causation. I'm super-liberal and have no doubt that race is something of a factor here, but it isn't the only one, and it's effect probably isn't as pronounced as the study or this article suggests. Having just read through the study, I see that it doesn't control for family income, type of household, parents' education level or a number of other factors that could be affecting expulsion rates. Generally speaking, African-American students are going to suffer disproportionately from poverty, parental educational disadvantage and related indignities. Only by controlling for those factors can any study claim to have isolated race itself as the cause of expulsion. Badly constructed studies like this give fodder to critics who would seek to undermine its important implications. Meanwhile, one can reasonably infer that among the factors that would help reduce African-American expulsion rates would be programs that raise income level and elevate the educational status of each generation. We probably don't need studies to tell us that though, do we. But, yes, at the end of the day, racism is no doubt also a factor. Let's work on some better studies to prove the critics wrong.
njmike (NJ)
"Disparate impact" brushes aside reason.
Ryan Bingham (Out there)
Judging from black behavior during police stops, we can see you are probably more correct than the study.
RE Ellis (New York)
We are supposed to draw the inference that this is yet another example of White racism in action. It would be interesting to learn whether black educators discipline black kids at higher, the same or lower rates than White educators do.

I would not be surprised to learn the answer was "higher than," as black educators are likely much less worried about claims of "racism" than White ones are.
John (Canada)
The logic used in this article is fundamentally wrong.
What the expulsion rate is not a valid way to analyze this issue.
You should look at the numbers of the students who are not expelled.
Looked at this way the numbers are not that far apart.
Many more students have never been expelled so what relevance
do the number of blacks who were expelled have to how Black people as a group are treated relatively to how white students are.
to how white people are being treated.;
Amanda (New York)
Schools are under heavy pressure from the federal government not to suspend black students. By the time they do so, there has often been severely disruptive behavior. In a country where the murder rate by young black men is many times as high as for other groups, it makes no sense to assume the suspension rate for black male students should be as low as for other groups.
Lynn (New York)
It is a lot more expensive to capture and put people in jail then to give schools additional resources to work with disruptive kids.

Those who present the argument that removing these kids from the classroom, so other kids could learn, was justified by disruptive behavior, surely would agree that the next step should be more providing resources to schools to better handle disruptive children.

Give resources to allow smaller class size and additional focused support rather than removing disruptive students from instruction and putting many of them on a path to prison.
Jill Abbott (Atlanta)
Disruptive kids do not stop being disruptive just because the classroom is smaller. Ask any teacher.
DOUG TERRY (Asheville, N.C.)
The beginning and end points of discrimination are clues we cannot fully read. What I mean is that attitudes are so ingrained that it is all but impossible to tell the cause from the effect.

When whites have power over blacks, attitudes instilled almost from birth and layered over for decades cause reactions that can't broken down for measurement. When a white person sees a black person doing something, it is taken automatically by many as proof of their prejudicial views.

There was a subtle form of this kind of discrimination when I was in high school outside Reading, Pa. It involved discrimination against whites, by whites (we had only two black students in my suburban high school). The "good kids" were all known to the teachers. The students who were somewhat better dressed, whose parents were professionals or otherwise had some economic standing were favored. A mediocre composition paper from those students could easily be judged as better than the best from the kids from lower middle economic backgrounds.

This discrimination occasionally favored me. I became known as a good kid, an active participant in everything in the school from debate to the Russian Club and so on. One day, I got some good news on some test scores and I yelled in the stairwell in celebration. When I reached the top of the stairs, there was the meanest teacher in the school. I smiled and said hello. Since she couldn't believe it was me doing the misbehaving, she went looking for someone else.
mhaddir (beirut)
The entire point of this "analysis" is moot. Their damning claim, that 55% of suspensions of black students occur in 13 Southern states. According to Wikipedia, as of 2010, 57% of American blacks live in the "American South". Look at the demographics maps, I am pretty sure it all comes from US censuses which are publicly available.

Which means, this "analysis" supports the claim that southern states do NOT discriminate against black students any more or less than the rest of the country.
Ryan Bingham (Out there)
At last. Someone that can do math. Nice work.
Allen (Brooklyn)
MHADDIR: Your math is wrong. The authors do NOT claim "...that 55% of suspensions of black students occur in 13 Southern states."

They claim that 55% of the school suspensions were of black student who, Wikipedia says, make up a minority of the South's population.

While 57% of America's Blacks may live in the South, Blacks make up less that 13% of the American population. 77% are White.

There are about 350 million Americans. See if you can do the math with these numbers.
Allen (Brooklyn)
MHADDIR: Correction. It's not your math which is wrong as you did not actually do any math. It's your reading comprehension which needs improving.


BTW: I got my numbers from
Cedarglen (USA)
Has anyone tried to quantify the behavior(s) that resulted in expulsions? It is not well covered, here. Was the black kid's behavior(s) worse or more serious than the others? Perhaps - or perhaps not - we simply do not know. In any case, seriously bad behavior in school, by anyone and regardless of race, remains unacceptable. Period!
rwgat (austin)
It is the racist machine. The expulsions, the jailings, the preying upon the black community for petty offenses. The revolt against civil rights started under Reagan and it has become the hidden code of the conservative movement in the US. I like the fact that the racist machinery is getting exposed now, a bit, but it is thirty years too late.
Pinin Farina (earth)
No kidding.

Ann Coulter said there's no more racism in America.
LCL (Washington, DC)
Seriously! Doesn't this point to a lack of parenting skills and lack of discipline in the home instead of supposedly biased school policies? If they do not want to suspend the student, maybe the appropriate response to a potential suspension is to require a parent or guardian to attend a parenting skills class. Just once, the cause should be treated instead of treating the symptom of the problem.
Bo (Washington, DC)
America's school system mirrors its prison system, where who gets punished and the severity of the punishment is determined by race.
Bo (Washington, DC)
"...all of the students expelled during 2011-12 were black."

The teachers and administrators must all be beaming with pride to have "perfect white kids" with no behavior problems in these schools which are located in the poorest states in America.
The study that showed a disparity between schools with defined conditions (more whites suspended) versus those using discretion (more blacks) warrants deeper study into the disparities. It might mean racism on the part of schools or it might mean greater discipline in the classroom, which is not necessarily a bad thing, judging from complaints from teachers about managing a large class with disruptive students.

That blacks also wind up more often in the juvenile justice system and ultimately in the prison system indicates that their interaction with disciplinary systems is problematic.

If the recent high profile cases (ex., Brown and Garner) are any indication, they don't seem to have much appreciation for authority or laws, and the system responds harshly. It's time for some honest soul searching all around.
Sophia (chicago)
Oh brother. Listen to yourself! You essentialize ALL black people as lawless -

I don't know what to say anymore. The bigotry in this country is becoming more vicious all the time.
mike (mi)
Using the Brown and Garner examples may not be helpful as you are generalizing from the specific
The study referred to in the article does seem a bit flawed as it did not seem to control for contributing factors, but to ascribe the problem to a general lack of respect for authority does not seem satisfactory. Perhaps we need more understanding all around rather than the conservative "if only you could be more like me" attitude.

Those cases are being used by many others to do just that. It is simply my observation that resisting arrest is part of the problem. Why else would NYPD want to now make it a felony?
M (NY)
Many commenters suggest that if black students are suspended more often than white students, it must be because they commit more infractions, and not because of institutional racism. However, the article notes that "blacks are more likely to be suspended or expelled in situations where teachers or school leaders have discretion in determining how to respond to behavior, such as when a student is deemed disrespectful or defiant or violates a dress code." This seems like a strong example of institutional, unconscious racism on the part of school leaders. (At least, let's hope it's not conscious racism!)

In addition, regardless of the comparative number of infractions, "students who are expelled or suspended are more likely to have later contact with the juvenile justice system than similar students who are not removed from school, studies have shown." So, even if black students did commit more infractions, different disciplinary consequences should be developed to address these infractions.
schbrg (dallas, texas)
That "more likely" is a statistical canard. Does that mean 50 times, maybe .0001 times???? Unless statistical significance is explicit, and how it was derived, then it's conjecture....

It's also interesting to me that it's Southern schools that are singled out...Is this a form of racism in and of itself given that New York City has the most segregated schools in the nation? (That was according to a Times editorial a few months ago.)
Josh Hill (New London, Conn.)
M, your conclusion doesn't follow logically from the statement in the article.
Wolverine (Cincinatti, OH)
So true, it is CONSCIOUS. How about getting suspended for bringing a transistor radio to an early morning alternative ELECTRONICS class at the request of the teacher to demonstrate and work on different types of electrical components, only to be suspended by a home school principle who bought in to the hype from a racist hall monitor that the "black" kids were being disruptive as they boarded a bus to get to their home school because one was carrying a transistor radio (after disassembling it and reassembling it) listening to it close to his ear while leaving the other school's property because they (hall monitor) didn't want blacks in the building - it was the first time we had ever encountered this person. Seeing blacks in that particular school was an offense to certain people - like the unraveling of society!
Richard (New York, NY)
The study mentions 13 southern states, almost all of which are "red." The suspensions in these states account for more than half the suspensions and expulsions nationwide.

This leads to the question as to why 26% of the states would have such a disproportionately high number of suspensions and expulsions and why a disproportionately high percentage of those suspended and/or expelled were blacks.

Are southern students that much more unruly than northern students? Southern blacks in particular?

Or do the schools in these states have arbitrary standards for detecting and addressing unruly behavior?

It's all too easy to create rules that appear on the surface to be even-handed and defensible, when their real purpose is to give administrators the excuse to discriminate.

Voter ID laws anyone?
Anon (DC)
Richard asks why 26% of the states would have such a disproportionately high number of suspensions and expulsions and why a disproportionately high percentage of those suspended and/or expelled were blacks?

I can't speak for levels of suspensions and expulsions, but the racial data is not any worse than in many other states, I provided a link for data in Minnesota (one of the most liberal states) earlier which showed that black students were expelled at ten times the rate of white students. I just randomly googled a few other states and the data seemed similar.

The authors of this study decided to focus on the south, but in reality this is a nationwide issue.
ebmem (Memphis, TN)
The same racial disparity in expulsions and other disciplinary actions exist in Connecticut and New York. The researchers apparently had a political agenda in studying only red states. The school of education at the University of Pennsylvania had no interest in what was going on in their own backyard. The sponsors of the research had no interest in identifying any problems in liberal states.

If you want to have a fair discussion about voter ID laws, here's a couple of facts that should concern you. In states that have voter ID laws, a higher proportion of minorities are registered to vote, and a higher proportion of minorities actually vote than is the case in New York or Massachusetts. Why is it that you have no concern that minorities are disenfranchised in New York and Massachusetts? Why isn't the Justice Department suing New York and Massachusetts?
Richard (New York, NY)
To Anon, that the racial disparity exists throughout the country is not surprising. That 13 states that surely have less than 26% of the population account for over half of suspensions and expulsions has not been explained. I ask again, are southern kids more unruly, or are southern administrators different?

To ebmem, regarding voter registration and voter ID laws, the states that you cite do not have laws designed to prevent voting. The red states do. Hence, Justice Department suits.
Honeybee (Dallas)
I'm a looong-time public school teacher in an urban school.

I have NEVER in 15 years seen a black student treated more harshly for a specific infraction than a white or Hispanic or Asian student, unless it was the black student's 5th infraction and the other student's first.

If anything, schools--especially urban public schools where black students are concentrated--tend to be bastions of "liberal" teachers who see themselves as racial and economic crusaders against The Man. These are last people out to get a kid based on skin color and for any headline-seeking group to infer that teachers are a bunch of racists is sickening.

The reason more black kids get expelled is that black kids are much, much more likely to live in extremely dysfunctional homes because so many of them are born to single teen mothers. Single teen mothers are almost never the most capable, effective parents.

Teachers like me and schools like mine cannot control what a child's mother is like and what the child has been exposed to for 14 years before they land in our classes and buildings. For the sake of all the other children--including other black children--we must maintain order and safety.

Through no fault of their own, an overwhelming percentage of black children are born to unwed teen mothers. They are not effectively parented. It's not the school's fault and we have 29 other students (or more) in a classroom to serve, also.
morrisr (mo.)
I am also a high school teacher with at risk students and concur completely.
Duane D (Ruidoso, New Mexico)
My son teaches at a middle school in the Bronx. Come sit in on a couple of his classes if you want to see the situation in action. Better yet, come to Parents' Night when, out of the several thousand student population, 50 parents show up. THERE'S your problem.
Shilee Meadows (San Diego Ca.)
“This is at least partly attributed to people having these racist assumptions about black kids.” This statement may apply to you as you blame the victims. Racism just cannot be the problem, as if it does not exist in these 13 states in the south, “…where more than half of all the suspensions and expulsions of black students nationwide occurred”.

Whatever happened to detentions? Are these states using these Black students expulsions and arrests in public school as a pipeline to their privatized prisons for profit? Unwed teen mothers are not the problem here. The south has always made money on racism.
Ozark Homesteader (Arkansas)
In my hometown in Tennessee, which was a high-tech community and generally more racially progressive than the surrounding towns, I could not help but notice how many of my black classmates in junior high did not graduate with my class. The disparity was striking. In that place, the discrimination was academic--passing Coach Carden's civics class, for example, was almost impossible for a Black student first time around. If you wanted to graduate with your class, you had to hope that you'd get him fall semester, so that you could re-take the course spring semester.
My impression is that inflexibility and racism by authority figures is actually much worse nationwide than it was two or three decades ago. It's almost like we've returned to the 1960s or earlier, when swaggering white men called Black adults "boy." Only now the discrimination is coming with expulsions and shootings.
cyclone (beautiful nyc)
I mean this with no insensitivity or meanness, but it is true that you can lead a horse to water but you can't make it drink. If the parents don't dicipline their children and encourage or force them to behave and learn, what else can the teachers and society do?
Abby (Key West, FL)
Carl asks, "Why were only whites and blacks studied? Was it because if they added Asians to the mix it would [call] into question the whole idea that the disparities are caused by racism...Why was this study limited to the south? Was it to demonize white southerners?"


Asians and other regions were not included because they are not a variable the authors chose to include - yet.

Nevertheless, if I am studying similarities and differences between apples and oranges, why would I be obligated to include grapes and lemons in my study?

You are basically demanding that a third, confounding variable purposely be added so that you can get the result you are after, i.e. that Asians are suspended at fewer rates than whites; therefore, the disparity between whites and blacks cannot be explained by racism.

Anyway, the authors are likely to go forward and make comparisons with other groups and regions. This was just one analysis.

Do you know how the research process works?
Anon (DC)
The New York Times seems to gleefully point out that southern states have higher suspension rates. I bet most states with a substantial black population would show the same disparity. I included a link below that shows that in Minnesota 40 percent of suspensions are black students even though they are under ten percent of the population, and they are ten times as likely to be suspended as white students.

The big problem is that many school administrators and education officials have never been (or in the past 20 years) in a classroom and have no idea of the reality of dealing with unruly students. My mother was a teacher and was breaking up a fight between two black males, and was knocked to the floor pretty violently. amazingly enough, these two kids were not suspended because the district was complaining about black suspension rates. The principal later got an award for reducing black suspension rates even though the school was considerably less safe then before, but the important thing was that the school board could pat themselves on the back.
Yoda (DC)
do you suppose this school was safer for its student body (including black students who were not misbehaving)?
JoeB (Sacramento, Calif.)
If you are a parent, teach your child to respect the administrators, teachers and fellow students. Tell them that fighting isn't an option, that if someone harasses or hits them they need to let an adult know. Teach them how to back out of an argument instead of escalate it. Make sure they have enough sleep and are coming to school prepared to learn. Tired kids are easily provoked and often let anger or sadness overwhelm them.

Try to have a quieter household. Kids who come from a house where the TV is blaring all night long have a hard time adjusting to a quieter class room, and that causes problems.

It is probable that some schools want to get rid of kids who lower test scores themselves, or who are impeding the education of others by being disruptive. Suspensions and expulsions may help a school to improve its test scores but it doesn't help the student to become educated. We need a variety of types of educational programs, including public residential schools, to help meet the needs of our students. Every child deserves to get an education; society benefits when that education elevates them to achieve all they are capable of.
Lucy (NYC)
One of the most emailed articles in today's paper is 'The case for teaching Ignorance". The author states "answers don't merely resolve questions; they provoke new ones". Most commenters on that article praise the approach of not stopping at simple answers but probing more deeply into what we take as truth or believe.

In that same paper the top read article is about there being very little scientific data supporting our need for 8 glasses of water a day. Most commenters present anecdotal evidence to dispel the data presented.

The first few commenters on this article about higher expulsion rates of Black students seems to have all the "answers",'facts", "beliefs" i.e Blacks are trouble makers and do not take responsibility for themselves etc. There is no pause for questioning deeper to find answers or even resolve harder questions. There is no anecdotal "evidence" of knowing a Black child who was expelled and why. Just statements of "facts" from our friendly NYT commenters. And we wonder if racism exist?
Tom (Jerusalem)
To question deeper means to have scientific studies done on such questions. There are in fact such studies but whenever the results do not match the expectations of the PC crowd, they are branded as racist.
Valerie Jones (Mexico)
Those who claims black students simply commit more infractions apparently are not aware that many more whites than blacks use illicit drugs, yet blacks are incarcerated at more than more the rate as whites for the same offense.

As such, it is possible that black students are being treated unfairly; much as we don not like to admit it, it happens. I used to teach English in a Title I high school in the deep, red American South, mostly comprised of whites, but where some of my colleagues would sneer only black students fro receiving free or reduced-cost breakfasts and lunches.

Seems like some of those same colleagues have shown up here to comment.
Peter Johnson (London)
Blacks (and white) incarcerated for drug are overwhelmingly dealers of drug, rather than users who are not drug dealers. Correcting for the difference in rates of drug dealing, this anomaly disappears. Blacks have higher rates of dealing drugs than whites, and therefore higher rates of drug-related incarceration. The user rate is not the relevant variable for explaining incarceration rates.
LNielsen (RTP)
[JackC5 Los Angeles Co., CA 1 hour ago]...
Perhaps they are overwhelmingly more misbehaved and antisocial?

This comment generated 53 'recommends'. There are only 43 comments, total, as I type this response. Problem is, Jack's singular statement is condescending, judgmental and dismissive, yet he provides not a single piece of reference of fact. Worse still, if this is indeed what he appears to think, feel or believe, has he ever asked himself, WHY he believes blacks are disproportionately 'more misbehaved and antisocial'? Does he even care to understand why any individual youth, black OR white, misbehaves or opts to live a life devoid of ethical, moral or academic rigor? I can think of one reason right off the bat. Hopelessness and neglect.
bozicek (new york)
Every teacher I've known that has taught both blacks and whites say that blacks are the source of almost all of their discipline problems. For those crying racism at the drop of the hat or every "study," go talk to local teachers.
Bill (Des Moines)
Another classic article from the NYT. Blacks are suspended more than whites so racism must be involved. Blacks kill blacks at 8 times the rate that whites kill whites - is that racism. Perhaps, only perhaps, black students, on average, come from poor family structures where a father isn't present. That may be a reason.

No one doubts that there may be unfairness in how punishment is meted out. However, if you visit an inner city, predominantly black high school you may discover a lot of anti social behavior.

The NYT wants to eliminate any racial disparity and cause any difference on racism. Fine - lets start with the NYT editorial board and work our way down to the delivery people. Where will we find minorities??
Wine Country Dude (Napa Valley)
Charges of racism are an evasion, and this cant is deeply and increasingly ingrained in our discourse. For example, illegal immigrants are not "illegal", but "undocumented", as though not having "documents" is a mere oversight and not an indication of the violation of our laws.

A careful analysis of the behavior that led to the expulsions would go a long way to a more rational discussion. I am certain that there would be the obligatory charges of racism in how that behavior was tabulated and categorized, but that's inevitable. At least it would be a start.
Counter Measures (Old Borough Park, NY)
If they are expelled for the color of their skin?! Shameful! But if they are expelled for their behavior and the way they demonstrate the content of their character?! Well, that's what we call accountability, and just cause.
RichFromRockyHIll (Rocky Hill, NJ)
Right. And when Blacks get pulled over or shot by cops, it's because they deserved it -- or because, as you put it in your slyly racist appropriation of ML King, of the content of their character. Nice work. You just proved the underlying point of the article. Let's hope you're not a teacher or school administrator.
Blackpoodles (Santa Barbara)
Let's face it, we are racist. Denying it only perpetuates the discrimination. Dark skin is perceived as a threat before the person does or says anything. Admit it. Then try to overcome the impulse.
gdk (rhode island)
How about differences difference in behavior Things are not always blacl and white
Sophia (chicago)
There were plenty of "juvenile delinquents" in my school and we had exactly zero black kids. That's right, not one.

And yet, we had kids who misbehaved - and worse.

Imagine that. White people acting up. Especially, adolescent boys. Oh the shock.
Charles S (Trenton NJ)
“We want policy makers, parents and everybody to understand that ANY DEGREE of DISPROPORTIONALITY is in need of redress and response,” Mr. Harper said. ANY DEGREE OF DISPROPORTIONALITY??

I fully commend the shift to policies that focus more on using counseling and early intervention to prevent “problem behavior” in the first place, but what does “redefine” problem behavior mean?

“Mr. Harper said that education schools should focus more on raising awareness about racial disparities and prepare teachers to cope with TENSE SITUATIONS without harsh discipline.” Prepare teachers to “cope with tense situations…” A “tense situation” is a euphemism for what? Schools should be a place for education not a venue for “tense situations.” Can anyone really learn in the presence of “tense situations?” Should teachers be responsible for mediating and interceding in “tense situations” and will this be at the expense of actual teaching?

“This is at least partly attributed to people having these racist assumptions about black kids,” Mr. Harper said. Does Mr. Harper not hear the acute irony in his assumption that “racist assumptions“ are partially responsible for the discipline disparity?
Hal (New York)
A further study should be whether black students are more likely than white students to be suspended or expelled for the same infraction.

It's not unreasonable to speculate; in prison sentencing, studies have already shown that there is disproportionately harsh sentencing for Blacks committing the same crimes as whites.
David L, Jr. (Jackson, MS)
That's right. It cannot be unreasonable to speculate, not if you say so. After all, there has never been an instance of error in the 9000 series.

I'm not sure why this article is open for comment. What did the decision-makers think would be said here to illuminate the topic? According to one Shaun R. Harper, co-author of the analysis, the expulsion rates can be "partly attributed to people having these racist assumptions about black kids." It would be nice to know how Mr. Harper knows that. And, assuming the assertion's correctness, it would also be nice to hear his proposals for going about changing these ideas; or did he simply wish to show that these ideas are the reason for the expulsions, which he asserts but fails, utterly, to prove?

However that may be, this topic has begun to annoy me. My hopes for substantial improvements in the lot of poor blacks in the United States have faded somewhat. And I'm beyond sick of both white bigots who see blacks as less than fully American, and in some cases less than fully human, AND black leaders who refuse, or see no reason, to scold any of "their people" for anything at all, and who in many cases literally see every single problem facing blacks as having its cause in racism.

With so many black children growing up in impoverished and unstable environments, the persistence of their behavioral problems shouldn't surprise anyone. One of the best things for black kids would be a full-force comeback of the two-parent family.
kathryn (boston)
Hal is sticking to his position in spite of the reported data. Where suspensions are mandated, whites are proportionately expelled. Where it is discreyionary blacks are disproportionately expelled. That's pretty incriminating.
Jill Abbott (Atlanta)
Or why not conduct a study examining the proportion of black students carrying knives to school vs white students?
Rosa H (Tarrytown)
So interesting to see all the comments implying that black students must simply be causing more trouble than white students and so are expelled more frequently. These commenters surely must be able to see into the future because the study is not yet released and the NYT article does not say anything about the rate at which black students violate school rules vs. the rate at which white students violate school rules. We call this type of "reaading between the lines" racism.
Joe Schmoe (Brooklyn)
I call it a rush to interpret everything as racism despite the facts not being in yet, or in many cases despite the facts themselves (Michael Brown).
schbrg (dallas, texas)
Then the NYTimes should have waited to publish this article. And even then, Why the lack of Asian and Hispanic students and those of other areas?
Thomas D. Dial (Salt Lake City, UT)
The article contains a hyperlink to the article, which is readily available to anyone interested:
JohnB (Staten Island)
When I was in high school in the early 70's, about 10 percent of the students in my school were black, and for the most part -- with some notable exceptions -- they were rowdy, disruptive, and kind of dangerous. Yet the fact is that they could get away with misbehavior that would get white students suspended, because if they had been held to the same standard as whites too many of them would have been suspended, and the school would have been accused of racism.

I don't have a lot of other first hand knowledge, but aside from my own observations, my mother was a teacher in the school system at the same time, so I have inside knowledge from that source as well. Just a data point, for those who believe that the problem is always white racism, and find no other possibility even conceivable.
JH (San Francisco)
It took another study to confirm what America has been doing since 1776?
Eagle (Boston, MA)
Wouldn't you need to compare the rate of suspensions per disciplinary infraction (rather than merely per student) for each race for this to mean anything? The study seems to assume that students of both races commit acts that could get them suspended at the same rates, and it seems to me highly unlikely that this is true in every single state studied or in all of those states as a whole. This seems to jump to a conclusion without taking into account a necessary variable. I'm not suggesting that the results would be any different if that were taken into account. The fact that such an obvious factor was ignored, though, makes me wonder if it was ignored intentionally.
Wouldn't the same hold true in sentencing? That it's necessary to look at the entire record (ex., previous arrests) versus just at the crime(s) for which any one sentence has been given.
Caliban (Florida)
The "black culture" that the first half-dozen posters complain of actually lies at the intersection of race and class in America. Think about it, guys. We all know middle class black professionals, and they are just like us. There are even wealthy Republican blacks. Herman Cain! These guys aren't gang-bangers.

Now think about the pejorative descriptions we use for lower class whites. Red necks, trailer trash, toothless meth addicts. And indeed it is lower class whites who commit most of our violent crime.

Class motility is at historic lows in our country. The first step, from lower to middle class, is the hardest. And it is hardest of all for black people. Numerous studies have shown that resumes with black-sounding names get significantly fewer interview requests than identical resumes with more traditional names. James gets a job, Jamal doesn't.

Blacks, specifically young black males, do commit more than their share of violent crimes, although the disparity is not as great if you also factor in class. Nevertheless, scolding the black community for failing to control these young men simply isn't going to be as productive as finding a way to offer more struggling young blacks a path to productive employment.
ebmem (Memphis, TN)
You have no basis for your conclusion that mobility between classes is at an all time low.
Caliban (Florida)
@ebmem, there's been a lot of research on it in recent years. A quick search for "social mobility in the united states statistics" should be all you need. Or search "Miles Corak" here in the NYT, he did an op-ed on the topic a couple of years ago.
schbrg (dallas, texas)
What useless statistics.

Unless you know why students are being suspended, the alarmist headline is means next to nothing.

BTW, what about Hispanic and Asian students?
Kenarmy (Columbia, mo)
The article cited one statistic related to firearms. I'll bet the school districts are not too eager to assist the NYT. The Superintendent of one district wouldn't even comment!
Bill Randle (The Big A)
I think it's abundantly clear that what we're learning about these United States of America is that racism isn't just alive and well, it's thriving. The good news is that it's going to be virtually impossible to sweep everything we now know about prejudice and race relations back under the carpet and pretend it doesn't exist.

It's exists and it's ugly and there's no turning back.
Yoda (DC)
Mr. Randle,

alternatively it could be the case that black students engage in actions that demand expulsion many more times than white. Did that occur to you?
Marigrow (Deland, Florida)
I taught in Florida public schools for 10 years. Black students were suspended and expelled at higher rates than whites because they misbehaved at higher rates than whites. The truth is that white administrators are afraid or intimidated to discipline black students in a color blind way because they think they will be accused of being racist and then reprimanded or worse. If the discipline code was applied in a color blind way the black suspension and expulsion rate would be even higher than it is. This may not be what the NY Times and many of its readers want to hear, but these are the facts and if you can get people in the schools systems to talk off the record they will tell you so.
Francis (Florida)
Very True!
Ian Maitland (Wayzata)
When is the Times going to stop twisting every disparity into a case of discrimination? The disparity here can be caused by any number of factors. The obvious explanation is that black kids are suspended or expelled at a higher rate because they are more disruptive.

Perhaps the Times has noticed that boys are suspended and expelled at a higher rate than girls. Does anyone seriously think that that disparity is the result of discrimination against boys?

Why are people who go on as nauseam about diversity the last to accept the fact of differences?
Samuel Spade (Huntsville, al)
Seems as if Shaun R Harper has already made up his mind about his co-authored study results, even if the results themselves are high on statistics but lack detail on all possible causes.
Lou (Los Angeles, CA)
Nationally the data shows that white students are suspended three times the rate of Asian-American students. Why isn't anyone looking into that disparity?
Mike Kueber (San Antonio)
Surely, we haven't reached the point where we apply racial quotas to suspensions! I suspect that males are suspended more often than females, but no one suggests sexual bias there. I wonder if there is a racial imbalance in instances of resisting arrest, too. It's too easy to casually imply causality when actually all we have is correlation.
majoseph (Oakland)
"By contrast, in a study of students in Texas, Mr. Thompson and his co-authors found that in situations where laws require schools to suspend or expel a student — such as when the student brings a gun or drugs to campus — whites are more likely to be suspended or expelled than blacks."
Josh Hill (New London, Conn.)
Worse, I have seen complaints that administrators are now afraid to discipline kinds for fear of being accused of racism. That means that teachers are left with disruptive students who interfere with the education of the other kids -- and this in turn drives good teachers out of inner city schools at which this kind of behavior is common.
Josh Hill (New London, Conn.)
majorseph, interesting, isn't it, that we don't see an article called "Analysis Finds Higher Expulsion Rates for White Students." I guess balanced coverage is out of fashion.
carol goldstein (new york)
I wish the NYT would wait to cover these sorts of reports until they could write an article that describes the results and methodology in such a way that the coverage itself rebutted the kinds of comments that predominate previous to mine. (Racist.) If the methodology is iffy, report that or do not report the study at all.
howcanwefixthis (nyc)
There are those of us that believe this kind of reporting is unhelpful and counter-productive. I find that we are very quickly labelled racist by readers such as yourself. In my case this could not be farther from the truth. I challenge you to withhold that assumption and try to consider that not all alternate points of view indicate racism.
Thomas D. Dial (Salt Lake City, UT)
With this report it never will be possible to describe the results and methodology so as to rebut the types of criticism that some consider racist. The report simply is not up to the task, and it may be that the OCR data used is inadequate to prepare such a report.
Beyond Karma (Miami)
I don't even have to read the article to know whites and racism are the reason for this.
Carl King (Atlanta)
Why were only whites and blacks studied? Was it because if they added Asians to the mix it would show a similarly disproportionate rate of suspensions and expulsions between whites and Asians, with white students being punished more, thereby calling into question the whole idea that the disparities are caused by racism rather than by more bad behavior on the part of the more punished race?
carol goldstein (new york)
Most likely there are too few Asians in these districts to do meaningful stats.
Carl King (Atlanta)
There are plenty of Asians in the states studied but that brings up another question. Why was this study limited to the south? Was it to demonize white southerners? Would the results have been different in Vermont or Wisconsin or New York?
Yoda (DC)
answer: to scapegoat whites for black society's problems. Plain and simple. The NAACP shows its inability to tackle the hard tasks.
Suspension and expulsion should be used only in extreme circumstances, when a student is a threat to other kids and teachers; otherwise, reformative efforts should be used. When kids don't see school as their place, or believe that they can succeed there, they are set up for failure down the line.
PK (New York)
It's prejudice. And it runs deep in our culture.
Hot Showers (PA)
"By contrast, in a study of students in Texas, ..... where laws require schools to suspend or expel a student — such as when the student brings a gun or drugs to campus — whites are more likely to be suspended or expelled than blacks." implies that white students are let off the hook when the penalty of suspension or expulsion is optional. Does the survey have any data on that proposition besides Texas? It seems as if Texas may actually have a good idea, albeit if the reasons are carefully (narrowly) crafted.
Steve Sailer (America)
According to a 2011 Obama Administration study, over the period 1980-2008, blacks were homicide offenders at almost eight times the rates that whites were:

So, why is this study of another form of blacks on average being more unruly supposed to be so shocking?
DOUG TERRY (Asheville, N.C.)
Because, ah, your underlying assumption is racist. You don't know that "blacks on average" are more unruly, you just believe it. That is called prejudice as in pre-judging other human beings.
scsmits (Orangeburg, SC)
@Steve Sailer
"So, why is study....?" Because "being more unruly" is not the same as committing homicide, that's why. Furthermore, if you really cared to do the arithmetic, you'd find that the percentage of African-Americans committing homicide is much smaller than the percentage of black students being suspended from school.
Richard Luettgen (New Jersey)
Wait a minute, Doug. Steve cites a statistic in defense of an argument, and provides a link to an Obama Administration study to support it. From this statistic and not from any "racism" evident in his comment, he concludes that blacks lead more unruly lives than whites on average -- shocker -- and that a disproportionate percentage of expulsions of blacks is tied to that greater unruliness.

You don't get to demonize the argument by the charge of "racism" and get away with it that easily.

It's certainly racism in part that creates the conditions by which black Americans are condemned to sub-standard education and locked in generational poverty -- that are largely the causes of broken families, hopeless existences and the violence that explains the statistic that Steve cites. But if the issue is why a disproportionate number of public school expulsions are of black kids, Steve raises a valid argument and asks a valid question.
popcorn (Texas)
Perhaps they commit an overwhelming percent of infractions.
JackC5 (Los Angeles Co., CA)
Perhaps they are overwhelmingly more misbehaved and antisocial?
Mike Barker (Arizona)
Raw numbers do not help. We need to know why the students were expelled. More information is needed if we are to correctly determine if there is racism or not. Maybe AA kids are just "badder" than white kids. I'm surprised that a University study would jump to conclusions so easily. Does not sound like a valid study.
scsmits (Orangeburg, SC)
@Mike Barker
No, we don't need to know why African-American students are expelled, we just need to solve the problem. Think about it. What good is served by having adolescents and teen-agers out of school, without adult supervision?
Francis (Florida)
when you have trouble makers in school and disrupt the class, what other options do you have ??
Thomas D. Dial (Salt Lake City, UT)
My daughter, who taught in Ohio, Maryland, and Utah, tells me that a single disruptive student in a classroom can easily destroy any learning opportunity for the other 20 - 30 pupils in the room. It may, sometimes, be preferable to remove 6% (the Alabama suspension rate) to improve opportunity for the remaining 94%.
M. Gessbergwitz (Westchester)
Black students are more likely to be expelled from school than other races/ethnicities because they are more likely to cause trouble. This problem has nothing to do with racism or bigotry. If Obama and the NAACP wants to lower expulsion rates for black students, they must first deal with a pernicious mindset and culture that is influential throughout the black community.

Blaming the problems facing the black community on scapegoats will only hold them back further. Blacks need to be held responsible for their own actions.
scsmits (Orangeburg, SC)
@M. Gessbergwitz
"A pernicious mindset and culture" was fostered by non-blacks for more than a hundred years of excluding blacks from education, jobs, housing, and most public institutions. These are facts, not scape-goats. Even now, there are states trying to shorten the voting period, and stop weekend voting to limit black voter participation. And the charter school movement is nothing more than segregation 2.0 because most of those charter schools are overwhelmingly black––not by accident.
Mellow (Maine coast)
>... Black students are more likely to be expelled from school than other races/ethnicities because they are more likely to cause trouble

Where is verifiable data supporting your claims?

Honestly, it is so annoying when people write whatever they feel like writing but do not back up what they say with a shred of credible, verifiable evidence.

I really wish people would stop making up things.
Francis (Florida)
Very True! ask any teacher and you will get the answer
csquared_sr (Ridley Park, PA)
It's the teachers fault. It's the school districts fault. It's society's fault.

Here's a novel idea. Follow the rules of the school, and I guarantee you won't get suspended.

Does personal accountability exist anymore?
Jax (Missoula MT)
Excellent point c squared. Those who don't take responsibility for their actions are generally doomed to fail. Accountability starts in the home; if children aren't taught that there are consequences to their actions they are going to end up in trouble at school and/or with law enforcement. Enough with political correctness.
scsmits (Orangeburg, SC)
@csqyared_sr and @Jax
"Here's a novel idea", talk to black parents to understand why the suspensions are bogus in so many cases.
comment (internet)
These students are still kids and need to be shown the way toward personal accountability. It would be helpful if the report lists the most frequent reasons for expulsion by race as well as by low- vs. high-performing schools.
See also