School Suspensions Skyrocket for Black and Latino Students

School suspensions may be setting black students on a course, and it's not to class.

By Naima Ramos-Chapman Sep 30, 2010

A [new study]( by the Southern Poverty Law Center has found that school suspensions of black and Latino students are skyrocketing. The trend, according to researchers, has been triggered by zero tolerance policies set in motion in the 1970’s, and exacerbated by hysteria over youth crime in the decades-long fallout after the Columbine High School shootings. Triggered by zero-tolerance school policies initiated in the 1970’s and exacerbated after the Columbine shootings, out-of-school suspension rates for Black and Latino children are skyrocketing, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center’s newly released suspension study using 18 of the nation’s largest school systems. Over at [The Root, Nsenga Burton writes]( about the dangerous problems that arise for penalized kids who are left with too much time on their hands: > > The Black/White gap has grown from 3 percentage points in the ’70s to over 10 percentage points in the 2000s. Blacks are now over three times more likely than Whites to be suspended. While the average suspension rate was 11.2% in 2006 in the middle schools surveyed, disaggregating the data by race and gender reveals great disparities in the use of out-of-school suspension. For example, for middle school Blacks, 28.3% of males and 18% of females were suspended. {snip} > > We’re sure that the racial make-up of the schools has something to do with the numbers and we’d be interested in knowing if they were able to disaggregate the numbers based on offense committed, but still. This sounds like prison prep to us. Why do these numbers correlate with disparities in prison sentencing for blacks and Latinos? To add insult to injury, research shows that removing people from the classroom does not result in better productivity and learning outcomes for students in the classroom. Guess who is getting suspended more often? Black females. Shouldn’t there be a zero tolerance policy against targeting black and brown middle-school children for out-of-school suspension? We’re just saying. To read on, head to [The Root]( Over at [Race in America](, Carl Chancellor urges schools to stop kicking black children to the curb: > Being physically removed from school carries with it many risks for both students and society. When students are suspended from school and are at home unsupervised, they are more likely to become involved in harmful "high risk behaviors." It should come as no surprise that left to their own devices, kids are more prone to use drugs and alcohol, engage in sexual intercourse and get caught up in an array of potentially self-destructive behaviors, including criminal activity. Critics blame suspensions for pushing students into what they term the "school-to-prison pipeline." There’s already been much said about the [school-to-prison pipeline]( that funnels thousands of blacks and Latinos through the criminal justice system. But this latest news looks like a tangible place to start looking for alternatives.