A new report from the Education Department finds that minority students receive much harsher punishment than their white counterparts. The report finds that more than 70 percent of cases referred to police in school-related issues involved black or Hispanic students.
"Black students are more than three times as likely as their white peers to be suspended or expelled, according to an early snapshot of the report released to reporters. The findings come from a national collection of civil rights data from 2009-10 of more than 72,000 schools serving 85 percent of the nation.
"'The sad fact is that minority students across America face much harsher discipline than non-minorities, even within the same school,' Education Secretary Arne Duncan told reporters.
"Duncan said some school officials might not have been aware of inconsistencies in how they handle discipline, and he hoped the report would be an eye-opener."
The report also found that fully 35 percent of students arrested were black and 37 were Hispanic. "Black students made up 18% of the students in the sample, but they were 35% of students suspended once and 39% of students expelled, the report said," the AP adds.
The New York Times drills down into the statistics and finds that black males especially face tough punishment. The Times reports:
"One in five black boys and more than one in 10 black girls received an out-of-school suspension. Over all, black students were three and a half times as likely to be suspended or expelled than their white peers.
"And in districts that reported expulsions under zero-tolerance policies, Hispanic and black students represent 45 percent of the student body, but 56 percent of those expelled under such policies.
"'Education is the civil rights of our generation,' said Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, in a telephone briefing with reporters on Monday. 'The undeniable truth is that the everyday education experience for too many students of color violates the principle of equity at the heart of the American promise.'"
That number — the one of expulsions under zero-tolerance policies — are important, because one would expect them to be somewhat proportional to the student population.
The American Civil Liberties Union told the Times they find those numbers especially troubling because they "show that students of color and students with disabilities are increasingly being pushed out of schools, oftentimes into the criminal justice system."
Duncan will deliver remarks about the report later today. The full report is expected to be released then.