Implicit Bias in the Schools

Today over at HuffPo, Law Professor Leland Ware has an important post about the school to prison pipeline, disparities in disciplinary measures, and suspensions:

Overall, black students are suspended and expelled at a rate three times greater than white students. On average, 5 percent of white students are suspended, compared to 16 percent of black students. Black students represent 16 percent of the student population, but 32-42 percent of students suspended or expelled. Between 31-40 percent of white students are suspended or expelled, but they represent 51 percent of the student population.

Black students are more frequently referred for criminal prosecutions. They represent 16 percent of student enrollment but they constitute 27 percent of students referred to law enforcement officials and 31 percent of students involved in school-related arrests. In comparison, white students represent 51 percent of school enrollments, 41 percent of students referred to law enforcement, and 39 percent of those arrested.

The Department of Education’s study stopped short of placing blame but the stark racial disparities are probably attributable to unconscious bias. A large volume of research conducted over the last three decades has shown that racial bias is pervasive among many who consciously subscribe to a belief in racial equality.

We have compiled much of this research and discussed it at length in our report Transforming Perception, which you can download and read here

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