What is the real cause of racial bias in discipline?

In a recent article, several strategies were provide for parents who have children who are potential victims of racial bias that results in discipline. The article is a result of the ongoing school discipline disparities between Black and White students. While offering several plausible solutions, the reality is that the author has not properly evaluated the cause for disciplinary racial disparities between Black and White children.

There are remarkable differences in the disciplinary outcomes for Black and White children. The United States Department of Education Office of Civil Rights reports that disciplinary disparities between Blacks and Whites begin in preschool. Even though Black children represent 18% of the preschool population, they represent 48% of the out of school suspensions. Comparatively, White students represent 43% of the preschool population, while only representing 26% of the out of school suspensions.

This imbalance of discipline continues through high school. Black students are three times more likely to be suspended from school when compared to White students. The average suspension rate for White students is 5%, while the average suspension rate for Black students is 16%. Additionally, Black girls are suspended at a rate 12% higher when compare to other girls of different ethnicities.

The racial bias has an impact on what students are referred to law enforcement. Black students represent 16% of the student population while representing 27% of the students referred to law enforcement and 31% are arrested. Comparatively, White student represent 51% of the student population while representing 54% of the students referred to law enforcement and 39% are arrested.

In order to determine the real factors that contribute to racial bias in discipline we must take a systemic perspective. The first fact is that 75% or more school discipline referrals are recommended by teachers. The other 25% or less are submitted by other staff members including administrators. Once a teacher submits a discipline referral, the administrator will investigate the teachers complaint and render a judgment. Once a judgment is made, the consequence is delved out. In most schools, once the consequence is delved out the parent should be contacted. Once a consequence is allocated, students normally choose one of three of the following options:

  1. Be late for school
  2. Be absent from school
  3. Decrease participation in that teachers class

All three options have an impact of student achievement. Even though the central theme of No Child Left Behind was to decrease the achievement gap between Black and White students the gap persists. Since the inception of NCLB, the achievement gap between Black and White students has decreased by 2 percentage points. The achievement levels for Blacks students is so detrimental that it has been found that only about half of Black fourth graders perform at the above basic level in reading according to the National Assessment of Educational Progress.

There is a negative correlation between student discipline and student achievement. When students are disciplined, they are more likely to underachieve. The only way to reverse this trend is to reduce the number of discipline referrals submitted by White teachers.

Several schools have mandated the decreases of discipline referrals which could prove detrimental to the school district due to the process that they have implemented. For example,  D.C. school superintendent, Chancellor Kaya Henderson, has opted stop suspending Black kids due to a new report that revealed African-American students are almost six times more likely to be suspended from school when compared to White students. The Minneapolis Public School District has announced a new initiative to reduce the number of non-White students suspended from school which requires that any non-White student that is recommended for out of school suspension with the exception of violent infractions must be approved by the superintendent’s office. The challenge with both initiatives is that they do not focus on the discipline referrals which is the beginning process that normally results in the over discipline of Black students.

The real solution to reducing the over discipline of Blacks is to reduce the number of discipline referrals submitted by White teachers. Discipline referrals are submitted due to the racial differences between Black students and Whites teachers. Under the surface of it all is the development of trust between Black students and White teachers which is the result of which non verbal and verbal behavior will dominate in the classroom. Off setting the racial bias in discipline will require that schools eliminate classroom racism (Elcloomism) by promoting positive racial teacher student classroom relationships (Properateasclaships).

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Racism in East Ramapo, New York: It’s Time to March

Dr. Derrick L. Campbell, Ed.D.
PO Box 1668 Blackwood, NJ 08012

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Author of Promoting Positive Racial Teacher Student Classroom Relationships


“The model that you use to analyze teacher-student relationships is a good one for most school districts”.

~ Joe Vas ~ Perth Amboy Mayor
“Dr. Campbell’s Cultural Relationship Training Program is comprehensive, informative, and should be required training for all schools”

~ Darrell Pope ~ Hutchinson Kansas NAACP President

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About Classroom Racism Exterminator

Racism is a menace and so we’ve been taught for ages which is the primary need for a diversity expert. However, even in this modern society of today where we see a lot of colored celebrities performing on stage with huge fan followings and of course an Afro-America President for the USA, we are still in a phase where racism exists in all its brutal glory and has been eating away at the society like a plague. Classrooms, are one of the most affected areas where color differences and racism exists to its extremes. Even after decades of progress and a lot of communal efforts at bridging the gaps between colored students, white students and teachers, it is sad to say that the disparities still exist and are just as pronounced today as they were back in the 1950s. Colored students, even in the likes of New York City, are attending under resourced schools or have been significantly isolated and made to be unequal in regular schools. Even if the teachers are well-intentioned, perpetuating the structural racism that has taken deep roots into the fabric of our education system is a tough task and make the need for a diversity expert imperative. Teachers need to recognize the biases that exist within the classroom and also take conscious measures to address them and their own biases of course. James Baldwin once said, “it is your very own responsibility to change this society, if you think of yourself as an educated person.” Dr. Derrick L. Campbell took this quote very effectively and straight to the heart and thus this Classroom Racism Exterminator happened. Classroom Racism Exterminator is an initiative that will teach you about your duty and moral obligation towards eliminating racism from the classrooms. This is where and how you will learn about what you need to do to produce a better society that is free of biases and disparities amongst the blacks and the whites. Because we understand how classroom biases and conversations about racism are difficult and how teachers and students almost avoid the topics altogether, we have put together a range of effective methods and products to help address the problem at hand and talk meaningfully to counter issues related to race and racism in the classroom. Diversity expert Dr. Campbell understands that it takes a lot of courage to talk about race and racism and that racial issues need to be viewed through a very critical lens that can understand and attend to the pertaining aspects of racism in the classroom. And therefore through this website we have made a conscious effort to eliminate racism from the classroom and make the educational system equal and beneficial for all. We know and we understand that there are no words that can actually describe how racism feels. There are cases and everybody tends to deal with it in their own manner. Some might lash out verbally or others might just withdraw into shells. Whatever the case, people don’t talk about it openly and teachers don’t really make a conscious effort at addressing the issue. We don’t really know if our children or if the youth is learning to be educated or become racists in their classroom. Our program is focused on helping children of color and regardless of their race, their full potential. We want every student to be able to recognize and reach their full potential so that they think of themselves as responsible citizens of their country and not regard themselves as worthless human beings. Here you will find motivational books and flash card games, all of which have been designed focusing on eliminating racism completely from our classrooms. The books and the games have been consciously designed keeping in mind the American society and educational system. It is a small effort on our and Dr. Campbell’s part to help this society become a better place to live in. A little about diversity expert Dr. Campbell Dr. Derrick L. Campbell the driving force behind Classroom Racism Exterminator is a dynamic figure and a constant source of motivation for us. He has a Bachelors of Science in Electronics Engineering Technology, Math Education, a Masters in Education Administration and also holds a doctoral degree in Educational Leadership. Dr. Campbell is a well known personality throughout the nation. He has lectured at various events including the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), Iron Sharpens Iron Men’s Conference and a lot of local churches. He is a personality well dedicated towards eliminating the plague of racism from our classrooms and helping every child recognize his/her true potential not the color of their skin. He realizes how a child would feel if he/she was made to think they are worthless human beings. Diversity expert Dr. Campbell is compassionate and related to the experiences and therefore this initiative is a constant and continual effort to eliminate racism manifested in us, completely from the classroom and from our society.
This entry was posted in Classroom Management, Racism in Education, School Discipline, Standardized Testing, Teacher Student Fights, Teacher Training, Tips for Teachers and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to What is the real cause of racial bias in discipline?

  1. Lane says:

    This is a great post and definitely true.  The power we now have available to us through social media is nothing short of amazing.


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