Disparities remain in America's schools

Studies show minority students have less access to advanced classes, preschool and are more likely to be suspended or restrained
Associated Press
Mar 22, 2014

Sixty years ago, the Supreme Court ruled that black children have the right to the same education as their white peers.

But civil rights data released Friday by the Education Department reflect an education system rife with inequities for blacks and other minority students and those with disabilities.

Minority students are less likely to have access to advanced math and science classes and veteran teachers. Black students of any age, even the youngest preschoolers, are more likely to be suspended. And students with disabilities are more likely than other students to be tied down or placed alone in a room as a form of discipline.

"It is clear that the United States has a great distance to go to meet our goal of providing opportunities for every student to succeed," said Education Secretary Arne Duncan.

But the department offered no explanation of why these disparities exist.

Here are five things to know about the department's findings:


STEM is the buzzword in education these days. Education in the fields of science, technology and engineering and math is considered critical for students to succeed in the global marketplace. Yet the department found that there was a "significant lack of access" to core classes like algebra, geometry, biology, and chemistry for many students. That lack of access was particularly striking when it came to minorities.

"A quarter of high schools with the highest percentage of black and Latino students do not offer Algebra II; a third of these schools do not offer chemistry," the department said.

And it's not just lack of access to core curriculum subjects.

Only a quarter of black and Latino students were enrolled in an Advanced Placement class, which allows high school students to earn college credit, and fewer than one in five got a high enough score generally necessary to get college credit.

Even as black and Latino students represent 40 percent of the enrollment in schools offering gifted and talented programs, they represent only a quarter of the students in their schools enrolled in them.

Christopher Emdin, a professor of science education at Teachers College, Columbia University, said if a school doesn't offer advanced math and science classes, students are told they are not expected to take those classes.

"There is nothing more severe in contemporary America, particularly as it relates to youth of color, than the soft bigotry of low expectations," Emdin said. "These inequities in the availability of science and math classes show young people that not much is expected of them. It highlights a subtle and severe bias that we will collectively suffer from as our STEM jobs continue to go unfilled, and our young people refuse to be scientists and engineers."


Quality teachers can play a key role in student performance.

Minority students are more likely to attend schools with a higher concentration of first-year teachers than white students. And while most teachers are certified, nearly half a million students nationally attend schools where nearly two-thirds or fewer of teachers meet all state certification and licensing requirements. Black and Latino students are more likely than white students to attend these schools.

There's also a teacher salary gap of more than $5,000 between high schools with the highest and lowest black and Latino students enrollments, according to the data.

Maddie Fennell, a literacy coach at Miller Park Elementary, an urban school in Omaha, Neb., said that too often in teaching, the mindset is that the more experienced a teacher is, the more deserving the teacher is of a less-challenging school environment. She said this doesn't make sense because, in comparison, an experienced surgeon wouldn't be given the healthiest patients. Ultimately, she said, the most qualified teachers will request to follow strong principals.

"A lot of it has to do with the leadership of a (school) building," Fennell said.


The Obama administration issued guidance earlier this year encouraging schools to abandon what it described as overly zealous discipline policies that send students to court instead of the principal's office, the so-called "schools-to-prisons pipeline." But even before the announcement, school districts had been adjusting policies that disproportionately affected minority students. The civil rights data released Friday from the 2011-2012 school year show the disparities begin among even the youngest of school kids. Black children represent about 18 percent of children in preschool programs in schools, but they make up almost half of the preschoolers who are suspended more than once. Six percent of the nation's districts with preschools reported suspending at least one preschool child.

Overall, the data show that black students of all ages are suspended and expelled at a rate that's three times higher than that of white children. Even as boys receive more than two-thirds of suspensions, black girls are suspended at higher rates than girls of any other race or most boys. More than half of students involved in school-related arrests or referred to law enforcement were Hispanic or black.


"Seclusion and restraint" is a term used to describe when students are strapped down or physically restrained in schools. The data show students with disabilities represent about 12 percent of the student population, but about 60 percent of students placed in seclusion or involuntary confinement and three quarters of students restrained at school. While black students make up about one in five of students with disabilities, more than one-third of the students who are restrained at school are black. Overall, the data show that more than 37,000 students were placed in seclusion, and 4,000 students with disabilities were held in place by a mechanical restraint.

Democrats Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, and Rep. George Miller, D-Calif., have unsuccessfully fought for a federal law for years to end the practice. National associations representing school boards and superintendents have said such legislation would reduce the authority of states and districts, but that seclusion and restraint should only be used as a last resort to protect school staff and students.


The Obama administration views access to preschool as a civil rights issue. It says 40 percent of school districts do not offer preschool programs. Their numbers don't include private programs or some other types of publicly funded early childhood programs outside of school systems. Obama has sought a "preschool for all" program with the goal of providing universal preschool to America's 4-year-old that would use funding from a hike in tobacco taxes.



Not true! Welfare is a direct result of the Great Depression.


Re: "Welfare is a direct result of the Great Depression."

And the Great Depression was a result of central bank credit expansion (even greater today).

Boom and bust.


Just making the point that when things got really bad the gov't stepped in. Stay on point pooh!


Re: "gov't stepped in,"

Point: The "gov't" (Fed Resv.) caused it.

Regardless, The Great Depression is OLD NEWS.

The Fed set up:

2000 - Tech Bubble

2007 - Housing Bubble

? - The growing and next Bubble.

With $17.3T and growing Fed budget debt, where's the money for welfare gonna come from eh?

The Big Dog's back

pooh, aren't educated and healthy people more productive? More money for companies?


You guys can wrap yourselves in the Constitution but it's just a document. It is written on paper not stone. If society expects it's citizens to thrive certain necessities should be made available to them. Not free but available and affordable. Why do you have the right to protect yourself from a gun but not a disease? Some on here want to make it seem as if sick people are going to march into a hospital and DEMAND treatment. I am not suggesting that but if you want me to work and pay taxes I need to be well enough to do that. I need an education to do that. I just can't put 100% faith in a document that once considered a certain segment of it's population less than human. America has yet to get everything right so there obviously plenty of work to do.


Re: "Constitution but it's just a document."

Might as well disband the SCOTUS; obviously outdated.

What was that nonsense again about them ruling that Obamacare is a tax? :)


You are going too far pooh. No one is suggesting disbanding anything. Just make it work for all.


Re: "You are going too far,"

Asked of you previously above:

Upon what then should the 'law of the land' be based upon if not the Constitution?


Here it is "The Supremacy Clause" Article VI clause 2 of the US Constitution. http://www.wisegeek.org/what-is-...

The Supremacy clause was included from the beginning as opposed to the Bill of Rights (Amendments I to X) which were added later. Note there are no Amendments guaranteeing a right to health care or education.


Answered previously above. Keep up!


Re: "Keep up!"

Asked almost two hours ago. Keep up! :)


Actually deertracker, you were lapped several times while you rambled on. The debate concerning the Constitution; supremacy of law; and right vs. privilege ended before you posted.


The debate ends when I say. YOU GOT THAT?

The Hero Zone's picture
The Hero Zone

There was a very specific reason for the Three-Fifths Compromise (and why slavery overall wasn't outlawed in the Constitution at its inception). I'd urge you to look into it, why it existed, and bring yourself up on history. Ignorance in this case only seems to cause turmoil, not bliss. If you'd like I can do for you what I do for Big Dog and provide the reason for you. If there is a lack of education, it is about this document and your pessimism about it is a shining example, especially knowing that through the amendment process it can be changed over time and with widely-accepted cultural norms.

Happiness, though, is often in the journey and not the destination.

Also for all the "I-I-I"s above, why aren't YOU keeping yourself from getting sick or learning? Why aren't YOU taking care of YOURSELF? Why do YOU want it passed as a "right" on your sovereign self so somebody ELSE has to do it for you? That's a helluva right, if you ask me! To just legally require swathes of the population to serve you. You don't have to do anything except demand other peoples' money, time, talents, and skills.

Can I have a right to a new car every five years? If society expects me to be productive I need that. Oh I also need to have a right that food be delivered to my house. How am I supposed to serve society if I have to waste time and money shopping myself or putting my money which could otherwise be taxed into food. Can I have a right to a monthly entertainment budget? It should be a right. Productive is proven to increase when people are happy. IT'S MY RIGHT TO THESE THINGS! You, deertracker, owe me these things. Or do you want to oppress me? Why do you hate me and want to violate my rights?

As for doctors and teachers, they owe them to you, after all, don't they? A doctor OWES YOU your health. A teacher OWES YOU your education. Simply by being born you have the right to require the services of these and others at any place, any time, with no barriers? That is what a right is, after all.

But to want you to work and pay taxes? I don't want you to do that any more than I want you to get sick, buy a new car, buy a blue shirt over a green, etc. Stop playing to what you think society wants of you and live your life. You are a contributor to and part of society, not beholden to and encapsulated by it.

Sheesh, deer, you ran a business. You should know all this. Come on, man.

Society owes neither you, me, Contango, Big Dog, etc. anything and if you think it does and demand your share I'd suggest you keep this phrase in mind: "First-world problems."

Whole lotta first-world problems goin' on in here...

Yeah there's some sarcasm above, but come on. Let's be real about this.


Hero, society owes me the opportunity to work and pay taxes. I did not ask to be born yet I am in debt to this country the moment I exit the womb. Happiness is the destination. Strife and turmoil is what you find on the journey. A car is not the only form of transportation to get to work. You are making all of this too simplistic.

There is no acceptable reason for the three fifths thing. None! It was a form of oppression. Plain and simple.
Doctors and teachers get paid to do a job. They owe their employer, not me. You cannot equate being able to breathe with buying a car or entertainment. Do you want uneducated and unhealthy people working for you? Can your business succeed with uneducated sick people?
The Constitution is flawed. Hence, amendments? Why do we have to vaccinate our kids? Who benefits? I want to work and pay taxes but I cannot do that if I am sick. Help me help society.

If the greedy continue to be excessively greedy, we are all going to be poor.

The Big Dog's back

I still can't believe we are arguing over educating people and keeping them healthy. Better education, better health equals a better society.

The Hero Zone's picture
The Hero Zone

Hmmm it's here the answers split into two, but I promised you response.

1. No acceptable reason for the Three-Fifths Compromise? I can't imagine that you would have wanted the Southern slave states to take over legislative control of the Congress and dominate the lawmaking process to enshrine slavery for many more years to come if not "ever". By not counting the slave population fully, this hamstrung the amount of Representatives the slave states could send as well as their influence in the Electoral College (and vicariously the Supreme Court). In other words, this bought the Northern states the time they needed to start the process of emancipation.

How are any of those not reasons? Mien Gott in himmel...

2. Our main difference is that you are happy to lose your individuality to a broad "society". You want "society" to take care of you and to allow your work, thoughts, time, and money flow into its nebulous form. You feel society owes you everything in your life so you can then spend that life working thanklessly for said society. To you, it seems, only society can be good and individual people are irrelevant to it.

To me, society is comprised OF individuals who through the mere act of living their lives contribute infinitely more and in greater ways to "society" by bringing each of their unique experiences, flaws, and successes to the pool of people. In my model "society" intrinsically succeeds if the individuals succeed. In yours, I see, only "society" is allowed to succeed by its own measures and individuals are to conform to it.

They are simple views of authoritarianism, libertarianism, individualism, pluralism, or liberty versus tyranny. Hence we will come back to agreeing to disagree here because your world is stripped of humanity and individualism. We must all work not for ourselves nor our families, but for "society" i.e. other people.

I don't exist FOR the state. The state exists BECAUSE of me.

As for how I could equate the things I did? I simply used your logic. You are not allowed to suddenly be an individual when prior you were arguing on behalf of the state. What you had said was implying that society owes you your health so you can contribute to it. Well, if our only reason to live is to serve the state then the state (which somehow is an entity separate from "us"?) owes us: cars, groceries, housing, entertainment, and everything else we need.

So choose the premise of your thoughts and have them be one way or the other.

To quote a character from a thought-provoking game I enjoy, "A man chooses, a slave obeys." Are we men of the state or slaves of the state?


Re: "If the greedy continue to be excessively greedy, we are all going to be poor."


Socialism makes everyone equally poor.

- old Soviet East European saying.


This whole argument is nothing more than responsibility. Are you responsible for your life or is the government responsible for your life ?

Some of us believe we are responsible and don't need anymore government intervention. Some believe the government need to intervene more to provide for its citizens.

When times get tough those who have embraced personal responsibility will survive. Those who have relied on someone else will not.

It's your choice.


If you really want to get down to basic responsibility to goes back to God. Gender, intelligence, race or nationality falls back on the big one.

If you were born an American citizen no matter of gender, race or intelligence you were given a step above the rest of the world. Trust me on this one.

Sorry complainers, but your troubles are God's fault. Complain to him about rights and see what you get. Good luck.

The Big Dog's back

So, be thankful you were born here. OoooooooK.



Have you travelled overseas? Have you travelled into Mexico and parts south?

You should say a prayer every night you are an American. We have animals in America that live better than half the world.

I got about 2 billion people that would trade you places in a heart beat.


Great...lets take away social security .


Re: "take away social security ."

Not to worry. The "lock box" is empty, filled with non-marketable securities, i.e. broke.

"Social Security to See Payout Exceed Pay-In This Year (2010)":


The Hero Zone's picture
The Hero Zone

The President's MyRA, I believe, is a stepping stone to load us individually with public debt and have no option but to use that for retirement. That way all private retirement money is siezed and IOUs left in its place.


Re: "MyRA,"

You're on the right track!

They're placing new rules on 401(k) contributions for the highly compensated, leading some to believe that the number of 401(k) plans started will be reduced or current ones phased out will be the result.

The IRS and DOL placed so many rules and regs on defined benefit plans to the point where they're almost non-existent due in part to their administrative expense.

My spouse directed a pension admin. network for a fortune 500 co., so I know a thing or two from whence I write.


My bet today is the social security will be reduced over the next 20 years. The money's not there to fund the large group of baby boomers ready to join the entitlement rolls.

The money was there but our government decided to borrow against its assets to fund other useless services to keep getting elected.

Hope you all have made other arrangement to support your retirement years.

It's going to get really really ugly in the next few years.


Most people (individuals) who are smart enough to save for retirement (which is what SS was intended for) know better than to spend the principal. But since this is gov't... and federal gov't ( the furthest fromn the people) at that, we shouldn't be surprised at the outcome. Gov't (especially FEDERAL gov't) does what gov't (especially FEDERAL gov't) does best... the wrong thing... AKA spend the principal. Or in this case use the principla to borrow against... and never pay back on the principal. You can't spend the money twice... not even the federal gov't. Is it any wonder the economy is what it is today?


I was watching a business show last night and one of the talking heads was repeating what I have heard numerous times:

In spite of all the Fed's money printing, we have low inflation (CPI).

He asked: Where's the inflation that you guys keep warning us about?

The other talking head to which this statement and question was directed didn't have an adequate response.

And then this morning, I read the following:

"The Fourteen Year Recession"


And THEN I remembered: The Fed has built in survivor bias in the metric.

If you don't like the results, change the questions and what you measure.