New Survey Highlights Civil Rights Issues in Public Schools

By Kenrya Rankin Jun 08, 2016

The U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights regularly surveys each of America’s public school districts to assess factors that impact equity and opportunity for students. Yesterday (June 7), the agency released the results of the 2013-2014 Civil Rights Data Collection. It measures several factors, including staff demographics, access to courses and student discipline.

The latest edition of this biennial survey—which was first conducted in 1968—added some key metrics for the first time, including data on students being educated via detention facilities, preschool punishment and the number of law enforcement officials present in schools. Beginning this fall, the public will be able to search the data for individual schools, districts and states.

Here are some highlights:

  • 49.7 percent of students in public school are people of color: 24.7 percent are Latino, 15.5 percent are Black, 4.8 percent are Asian, 3.1 percent identify as two+ races
  • Black preschoolers are 3.6 times more likely than their White counterparts to be punished via out-of-school suspension
  • In K – 12, Black students are 3.8 times as likely to be suspended, and all students of color are disproportionately suspended, except Asians
  • Black students are 2.3 times as likely to be arrested at school or referred to law enforcement as White students
  • 42 percent of all high schools employ sworn law enforcement officers (SLEO), but 51 percent of schools with high Black and Latino populations (75 percent or more) have SLEOs
  • 1.6 million students attend a school that has an SLEO, but no school counselor; Latinos are 1.4 times as likely to attend those schools as their White counterparts, Asians are 1.3 times as likely, and Blacks are 1.2 times as likely
  • While Native American and multiracial boys represent just 2 percent of students, they are 5 percent of students who are restrained or involuntarily confined in schools
  • Black and Latino students have less access to high-level science and math courses; just 33 percent of schools with 75+ percent Black and Latino enrollment have calculus, versus 56 percent of schools with a population of sub-25 percent
  • Black and Latino students make up 42 percent of the population in schools with gifted programs, but they make up only 28 percent of program enrollment
  • 26 percent of justice facilities offer fewer than 180 days of school each year

(H/t NPR)