|2011-2012 Black student suspension rates in Sacamento County, Califonia|
A recent study at UCLA called the Civil Rights project has revealed that African American students are suspended more than three times as often as their white classmates, twice as often as their Latino classmates and more than 10 times as often as their Asian classmates.
Although the chart above shows the suspension rates in Sacramento, California, this was not at all a local study; It was conducted in middle schools and high schools nationwide, and the study used U.S. Department of Education data collected during the 2009-2010 school year (the latest available).
According to the study, the average American secondary student has an 11% chance of being suspended in a single school year. However, if that student is black, the odds of suspension jump to 24%.
The UCLA study compares this new data with a similar study of more than 2,800 districts from the early 1970s. Back then a study by the Children's Defense Fund showed that black students were suspended more frequently than their peers, but not at such a disproportionate rate.
"Pointing fingers and using the 'racism' word isn't going to get us where we need to go," said Daniel Losen (who is white), one of the authors of Out of School & Off Track: The Overuse of Suspensions in American Middle and High Schools. He adds, "But I think we need to acknowledge that there may be general bias against black students."
The study also revealed that the suspension disparity is magnified in bigger cities such as Chicago, Dallas, Memphis and St. Louis. In these city school districts, at least 40% of all black students were suspended at least once during a single school year.