Most people believe that the gang culture in Oakland, California is only on the streets. We are slowly finding out that it’s also prevalent in the school system — and the administration is the ring leader. Due to the disparities in discipline of White and Black students in the Oakland Unified School District, the U.S. Department of Education will send federal officials to monitor the district’s rate of out of school suspensions for Black students.
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The resolution, which the Oakland school board passed unanimously, closes an investigation by the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights into whether African American students were disciplined more frequently and harshly than their white classmates. The agreement was reached Thursday.
Last school year, African American students made up about 39% of the district’s total enrollment but accounted for 63% of students with at least one suspension and 61% of those who were expelled, said Russlynn Ali, the department’s assistant secretary for civil rights.
According to Oakland Local, Black male students were suspended at six times the rate of White male students in the 2010-11 academic year. 44 percent of suspensions were because of “defiance of authority,” and by middle school, 1 in 3 Black male students were being suspended.
Ali says there is a “culture” in the schools and classrooms that lead to “extraordinary” rates of extreme discipline for Black students versus their White counterparts, and it’s “not unique to Oakland,” she said.
We’re sure it’s not. The “culture” is plain, old racism and it can be found in every city, in every school and judicial system in the United States of America.