student suspensions in DC

Across the Washington area, black students are suspended and expelled two to five times as often as white students, creating disparities in discipline that experts say reflect a growing national problem. 
She pointed to one unsettling statistic: 71 percent of suspensions for insubordination, a relatively rare offense in the county, were handed out to black students. African Americans make up 21 percent of students in Montgomery’s schools. The goal is to dig deeper into the data, offer more professional development and share best practices, she said. “We don’t try to minimize the data,” Lacey said. “We just try to talk about it the way it exists.”

The Post’s analysis found that in the Washington suburbs alone, more than 35,000 students were suspended or expelled from school at some point last school year — more than half of them black students.
Authoritarian schools that rely on coercion have not built the habit of listening to and working with families or students. It is the family and the child that are blamed for system issues and this means suspensions and truancy charges to enforce a relationship based on power, not service. This tendency is only magnified when students are in poverty. Yet is precisely these children and families who would benefit most from real and substantial support from their local schools. Schools and teachers should be allies of the family and focus on serving them instead of serving those who benefit from failing kids and testing schools. But schools now police families instead of working with them.

From James Baldwin's famous essay, "A Talk to Teachers," (see my post on Baldwin on education):
America is not the world and if America is going to become a nation, she must find a way – and this child must help her to find a way to use the tremendous potential and tremendous energy which this child represents. If this country does not find a way to use that energy, it will be destroyed by that energy.
There is a way to use that energy, to use the energy of every child, and the first step is creating a system of resources that works with and supports families and kids. A power relationship built on policing families is wrong from the start.

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