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Black Students Face Harsher Discipline, Study Says

Tuesday, March 06, 2012 - 06:45 AM

It is a local truth, but it is also a national one: black students, and boys in particular, are more likely to be harshly disciplined in school than other students, according to new data from the United States Department of Education.

The new information comes out of the department's Civil Rights Data Collection’s 2009-10 statistics, and shows that while black students make up a fraction of the enrollment at schools surveyed -- 18 percent -- they account for 35 percent of first-time suspensions and 46 percent of second-time suspensions.

They are more likely to be expelled from school or arrested, and if they have a disability, statistics show that they are disproportionately subject to restraints or seclusion.

But the differences in schooling experience are not limited to discipline. The survey, which was conducted of 7,000 school districts and of students in kindergarten through high school, found that schools where many students are black and Hispanic are less likely to offer calculus than those where there are few of these students.

The data also showed that schools with a lot of black and Hispanic students were likely to have relatively inexperienced, and low-paid, teachers. On average, teachers in high-minority schools were paid $2,251 less per year than their colleagues elsewhere. In New York high schools, though, the discrepancy was more than $8,000, and in Philadelphia, more than $14,000.

In New York City, the Police Department has started releasing data four times a year on the number of students who are arrested or issued summonses inside public schools. The most recent statistics show that 60 percent of the students arrested were black, though they comprise about 30 percent of the student body in city schools.

The New York Post reports today that city education officials returned $7.5 million in federal grant money to the state, after concluding they could not meet the grant's requirement of establishing a new teacher evaluation system. But as the reporter Yoav Gonen writes, the city returned the grant without trying to reach a deal with the city's teachers' union. Only three city schools were participating in the grant program, called the School Innovation Fund, and state officials said they were willing to let the city come up with a limited agreement covering only those three schools. But the city's Education Department said there was not enough time to reach a deal and conduct training.

And the legendary chess team at Edward R. Murrow High School in Brooklyn has won the state championship, reports The Daily News. The team will travel to Minneapolis next month to try for an eighth national championship. Their coach, Elliott Weiss, has led the team since 1981.

“We were the underdogs,” said Weiss. “They were playing against some master-level chess players. We were down. I just walked away disgusted, thinking we lost. But 20 minutes later, our man was demolishing his opponent.”

For more in city school news, read GothamSchools' morning round-up here.

In Albany this morning, students and elected officials are holding rallies in support of the Dream Act, proposed legislation that would give students who are in the country illegally access to financial aid at city and state universities.

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg is speaking at a benefit on Tuesday night for Harlem Prep Charter School -- a formerly independent charter school called Harlem Day that had its charter revoked for poor performance. In an unusual arrangement, the state allowed Democracy Prep, a charter management organization that oversees several other schools, to reopen the school with the same students and a new staff. The event is being held at a restaurant on the Upper East Side and top flight tickets go for $15,000 -- the cost of educating five Harlem Prep students for one year.

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