Figure from U.S. Department of Education.
Data released this week by the Department of Education shows significant disparities in minority students’ punishment, access to rigorous courses, and quality of teachers. The data comes from the Department’s Civil Rights Data Collection, a national survey of 72,000 schools.
The data show that African American students are disproportionately more likely to be suspended or expelled than students of other ethnicities, with black students making up 18% of the sample population, but 35% of one-time suspensions, 46% of multiple suspensions and 39% of expulsions. Access to rigorous courses was measured by the availability of Calculus in high schools. Calculus was available in only 29% of high schools with the highest percentage of black and Hispanic students, compared to 55% of high schools with the lowest enrollment of black and Hispanic students. Additionally, teachers in high minority schools were paid an average of $2,251 less per year than teachers in schools with the lowest minority enrollment.
In a release summarizing the data, Education Secretary Arne Duncan said “The power of the data is not only in the numbers themselves, but in the impact it can have when married with the courage and the will to change. The undeniable truth is that the everyday educational experience for many students of color violates the principle of equity at the heart of the American promise. It is our collective duty to change that.”