Are black girls being pushed out of school?

A study released by law researchers at Columbia University shows evidence that of all groups, black K-12 female students are kicked or pushed out of school more than their peers. Altercations that may just call for a suspension or mediation for other students, for example, turn into expulsion or arrests in the case of black girls at rates that are alarmingly high.

The report,  Black Girls Matter: Pushed Out, Overpoliced and Underprotected, points to a school culture where young women of color are routinely looked over when it comes to providing a safe, nurturing environment for their learning. Things like “zero tolerance” policies appear to be interpretive for some K-12 students, but are almost always followed to the letter of the law with black young women.

This trend points to the larger issue of equality in our K-12 classrooms. If, as a body of educators, we truly are trying to graduate as many American kids as possible and find ways to reach them on an individual basis, how can stats like these be tolerated? Our culture of arresting first, and asking questions second, when it comes to all students of color is troubling because it changes the self-perception of these students.

Other research has shown that students who are considered “bad” or kicked out of classrooms at a young age are more likely to head to prison eventually. What good does this type of cycle do for anyone? Black female students are not the ones who need to change; the way we teach and treat them needs to change if we ever plan to reverse this trend.

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