January 11, 2006
Is it a function of race or family?
Today's Seattle Post-Intelligencer reports that "Race gap in school discipline persists in Seattle"
Nearly two decades after it began tracking student discipline, Seattle Public Schools continues to struggle with a chronic problem: African American students are still far more likely than their white peers to be suspended or expelled.
The predictable implication of the article and the credentialed experts that it cites is that this "gap" is attributable to institutional racism, insensitive teachers, unnecessarily harsh punishments, etc., with the ineluctable conclusion that in order to ensure equal academic outcomes, black students need to be disciplined less and less harshly, or something. That might all be true and it's difficult to prove the absence of racial discrimination, but I will propose an alternative hypothesis: Kids from different ethnic groups tend to be disciplined at different rates because they misbehave at different rates, attributable not to race, but to patterns of family structure. i.e. black students have a higher rate of discipline issues because a larger percentage are from single-parent homes.
[Click for a larger graphic, continue reading for detailed explanation]
The above chart shows Seattle School District's expulsion rates in 2004/05 for by ethnic group as a function of the number of students in each group who are "Not Living With Both Parents". (To keep this simple, I'm focusing only on middle-schoolers). E.g. 30.4% of white middle school students are not living with both parents, and the rate of short-term expulsions is 8.0% per student.
The data is the School District's own data, available here. Of the 19 ethnic groups tracked by the School District, blacks have the highest incidence of "not living with both parents", 69.2% of middle schoolers. As you can see by the trendline, there is a high correlation between broken homes and short-term expulsions. There is also a correlation with long-term expulsions, but there are a few more outliers, partly, I suspect, because the sample sizes are smaller. While the white group is slightly below the trendline, blacks are only slightly above the trendline.
This is, of course, a fairly crude analysis and it doesn't prove a causal link between family structure and school discipline problems. And I would never suggest that every child from a single parent home is at greater risk for discipline problems than every child with two parents in the house. But it is not hard to see how a child with two constant parents to provide love and guidance has certain advantages in his/her social development, and this hypothesis is worth further investigation. It would be interesting to see separate analyses of discipline rates by ethnicity for kids who are living with both parents and for kids who are not living with both parents. I'm not sure whether the school district could break the data out this way, and I'm even less convinced that they would want to, or that the newspapers would report it. Unfortunately, the education industry and the mainstream media seem to have too much invested in racial politics to consider other factors.
Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at January 11, 2006
10:26 AM | Email This
Be careful there Stefan, you might get in trouble for telling the truth.
It would probably be instructive to look at these stats vis-a-vis the stats on the general black prison population. There has long been a disproportionate trend in the number of black prison inmates vs. representation in population, so stats like this don't surprise me.
Until black children stop rejecting their education as "trying to be white" and are taught to value what their forefathers were killed for trying to obtain, I'm not optimistic about this trend turning around anytime soon.
You know...if you ask the wrong question, you will ALWAYS get the wrong answer.
I'm only curious as to what behavior resulted in the suspension or expulsion. That's the only legitimate question.
3. As someone that works with statistics for a living, I can assure you that the correlation is viable.
Well, it is either what you propose (that for family reasons, black kids are more likely to misbehave), or teachers and school administrators in Seattle are a bunch of racists, punishing black kids more often than whites for no other reason than that they are black.
Which position does the WEA support?
5. It's an indictment of liberal culture, which is why it wouldn't be reported.
Disgruntled, since the majority of teachers and especially administrators in Seattle may be on the liberal side, it does become curious as to why there would be a "disproportionate" amount of black students disciplined. I would think that tolerance, diversity, "true" compassion, and empathy would hold the discipline levels to something not greater than the statistical population percentages.
If the liberals find it necessary to be disproportionate, then maybe - just maybe - there is something else accounting for it rather than population ratios.....
You can't win on this one, Stefan. The Liberal Agenda will never admit that their programs forced the destruction of black families in America. It's up to black people themselves to escape from the Liberal Plantation.
O'Reilly is right: illegitimate children almost always end up in poverty. In fact, out-of-wedlock births are almost a guarantee of a life of poverty. Yet many in the MSM and other Liberal icons insist that it's white racism that causes black poverty. Well, that may have passed muster 40 years ago, but it doesn't cut it today!
There is nothing society can do to prevent this self-desructive behavior: it is entirely the responsibility of the black community to escape from this Liberal trap.
The "Living Condition" section of the school district report on pages 18-26 displays some rather startling data. From the data presented, it is tragic enough that white children have the best chance of living at home with both parents at only roughly 70%. It is even more surprising to me that only about 30% of African American children live at home with both parents.
Most of those kids living in single-parent homes are living with their mothers. The absence of a continuous, stable, male role model in the daily lives of all children is a great detriment, regardless of race. A child needs both a mother and and a father to love them, teach them, protect them and meet their needs. While this is not possible in many cases, it is not surprising to me that children with only one actively involved daily parent have a tendency to act up more and to get into trouble at school.
9. If they wanted to publish an actual meaningful study, instead of just looking at suspensions/expulsions and race in a vacuum, they should also reference incident reporting by race and compare the rate of punishment for identical offenses. Only then can they make a case for racial discrimination in administering punishment.
10. The correlation may be viable. It does not necessarily follow that it is valuable or meaningful.
Screw the numbers! Rules and standards of behavior are the same for everyone, regardless of who or what you are.
How a child behaves goes straight back to the home. Understand I realize there are a lot of single mothers and fathers who do the best they can and still end up with problem children.
Don't roll over and let the kids win. Keep fighting; misbehaving school children are not adults.
Kids, your parents earn and pay for your food, your schooling, your books, the clothes on your back, the shoes on your feet, and your shelter...grades K through 12. If government holds me (as a parent) responsible for your actions, plan on my being in your face when you go wrong because that is my right and because it is what parents do...we teach until we die. Kids may have rights, but so do we.
What I say to you, parents of kids in trouble, is do the best you can, but don't let the system dumb down punishment for the sake of one's skin color. This is about right and wrong. You and I have to draw the line with our kids or everybody loses. Find your backbone and keep fighting. Our parents fought, and it's part and parcel with parenthood.
12. That chart looks like it was derived from that goof show- NUMBERS.
When I heard about this report and the proposed solutions I got very curious so I took time from my work to look at the statistics section. Frist, if a school is 80% miniority the fact that 80% of the discipline issues are with minorities is meaningless it would be expected. If on the other hand the school was 80% white and the discipline was still 80% minority that would be a real problem. I could not find anywhere in the study methodology any provisions for viewing the data in terms of the minority population of the schools. So I called the Seattle School District and was told that school enrollment is not recorded that way. That off course leads to other questions like how do they know the number of minorties in the individual schools for "diversity" goal acheivement, but that is another issue.
The proposed solution is that teachers and administrators impose punishment after consideration of cultural background and social situation. So if a black kid calls a white teacher a "ho" or 'B" that is okay because he is expressing his cultural back ground (deep emersion in CD's by 50 cent). The other idea of course is to eliminate suspension for minorities.
The whole concept of punishment gap creates the tautology of a permanent underclass who can not be held to the same standards and therefore can not be expected to perform as well on any measure of success.
Another issue is that the data does not reflect any gender identification so we do not know what the explusion rate is for minority females. Assuming that the data is heavily skewed to males then it needs to be adjusted for males as a percentage of the total population.
This data does point to a problem but not the ones the school district thinks is the problem. The idea that in politically correct Seattle that teacher would go out of their way to hand out stiff punishments to minorities is ludicrious. The idea that the institutional mentality of the school and educational community would skew data to create another desperate need for more funding is more to the point and objective.
How is NOT valuable or meaningful?
Quit being a disingenuous buffoon.
Would you prefer an honest buffoon? How often do you saw limbs off behind you?
I'm fairly certain that there is a viable correlation between the number of births and the instances of procreative activity? So what?
To suggest there is some value in believing that there is a racist component to school discipline in the utopia that is Seattle is absurd. So you work with statistics. Great. I work with criminals. I would imagine that I have a little better and more educated perspective on undisciplined behavior than you do with your numbers.
It's the culture stupid.
Many blacks still embrace a culture that glorifies disobedience, profanity, rape and views women as "hos" that are primarily intended for sexual gratification. Don't believe me? Just listen to the songs, turn on MTV, take a look around a predominantly black neighborhood, etc. As long as young black men grow up in this culture without a very strong positive influence to keep them away from these destructive ideas, they are going to learn what they live.
The left is unwilling to take responsibility for the damage that their own relativist ideas have caused. And in fact, given their total embrace of the relativism and its corollary diversity which ascribes equal value to mainstream culture and destructive black culture, they now have no options but to continue down that same path when searching for solutions. So we are told that the only way to deal with miscreants is to try and understand their world view, just as we are told that we need to be more understanding of Islamic fanatics and their world view.
It's a broken record folks, and it is a dead end. Liberalism, relativism, collectivism, all those roads lead to nowhere, and history is repleat with dead civilizations to prove where their failed ideas will lead.
The only solution is individualism, capitalism, limited government. It is only when man realizes that his lot will only be enhanced when he fends for himself and deals with others through the benevolence of commerce that he aspires to the height of civility.
The more we give Democrats, Progressives, Liberals, Leftists, Collectivists, Statists (or whatever term you want to ascribe to these parasites) the yoke of power, the closer we come to the abyss.
17. nicely done, Jeff B. Hats off to you!
This data does point to a problem but not the ones the school district thinks is the problem. The idea that in politically correct Seattle that teacher would go out of their way to hand out stiff punishments to minorities is ludicrous. The idea that the institutional mentality of the school and educational community would skew data to create another desperate need for more funding is more to the point and objective.
Posted by Dennis at January 11, 2006 01:18 PM
Great Point Dennis. If the Teachers and Staff were reading their get-well books this would not be a problem. Then if might not be the students who have a problem but those who run the institution who has the problem. First, the lack of common sense and the ability to committee the subject matter to death is the school district failure. You folks do not know how to run a prison let alone a school district. When you get good leaders your problems will disappear, but your school district will have half the schools and a lot smaller staff. First find a strong leader who knows how the lead and dispense discipline to his staff and students when needed. Lots of luck folks you will need it in you PC world.
Every so often, we hear from leftists and race-baiters who bemoan the fact that African Americans are "over-represented" in prison populations, police activity and in school discipline reports. They want to say that racism is to blame. Never once do they place any responsibilty upon those who commit crimes or punishable acts.
Want to stay out of trouble? Then follow the rules!! It's not that difficult!! Don't fight, don't cuss out teachers or cops, don't steal, don't beat up others, don't do the things that get one in trouble. It works for anyone of any race, color, or creed. Will anyone on the left say that? I won't hold my breath waiting...
20. Stefan, you said " It would be interesting to see separate analyses of discipline rates by ethnicity for kids who are living with both parents and for kids who are not living with both parents". I think it would also be interesting to control for household income. Race may be a factor, but class (I know, it's a four letter word in this country) also has an interesting relationship with both the behavior of individuals and how they are punished (or not). This is not to say that class explains everything, but just to point out that it is another lense with which to view the data.
It's not a "racial" issue...it's a "cultural" issue.
I would say this attitude of violence and disobedience is coming from a home culture born of generations of entitlement mentality (ie; welfare), drugs, gangs, and disrespect - peddled to minorities for decades by the liberal Democrats who under the guise of "civil rights" - wish to keep the black "race" down.
The schools are discipling the product of the culture - The liberals create this culture with a form of soft racism....
The white's who are being disciplined have a similar "culture" at home....
22. The vast absence of fathers is destroying the black community. They need to address that amongst themselves. Fix that, and you fix a whole lot of things.
Only "color issue" here is black & blue butts--
Ask any society or country about THEIR OWN losers--same features in any country--excuses and no efforts;
let's get real here is the U.S. and get back to work---respect cures a lot of bigotry when you see everyone pulling the same load with responsibilities like you are pulling--idealistic? Maybe...
I am so weary of hearing this tripe about how poorly the African American kids are doing behaviorally and academically. And the current leftist fuzzy wuzzy brains are intent are finding any excuse except personal responsibility as the root cause of these problems.
Not once does the article mention what the kids got in trouble for and it is so true many of the Seattle schools try not to discipline the African Americans because it makes the statistics look bad. My daughter was in a 10th grade biology class at a Seattle high school and one of her fellow students tossed a very expensive preserved biology speciman out the window. The teacher couldn't really do any thing about it because the last time he turned the little darling into the office for misbehaving he received a lecture on not being "sensitive" to the student's cultural situation.
Any one who thinks the discipline problems are being blown out of proportion should take the time to drop in on one of the high schools unannounced and tell the office you're there to observe student behavior during passing time. Your ears would certainly get an education in street language. Standards need to be set and the rules need to be enforced. This lack of enforcement during the formative school years is a big reason many of these punks have serious trouble later on when they get turned out into a society that doesn't consider misbehavior a "teachable moment".
We all pay for these misguided liberal processes. Dr. Sowell does a nice recap on this in his most recent column: http://www.townhall.com/opinion/columns/thomassowell/2006/01/12/182061.html
Who is wasting our tax dollars studying this stuff? Many other variables contribute to the characteristics of children, why does it always have to be racial?
I'd write more, but instead will go spend some quality time with my children...so they don't become a statistic.
Hey! There probably is a link between split families and discipline problems. And, if a large group of black families fall into the divorced or separated category, then it would follow that they would show up in that analysis. What I want to know is this: Has anyone else noticed the recent burgeoning of well-educated conservative blacks? It seems as if there are more columnists and writers out there following Bill Cosby's lead.
A friend of a friend of mine lives in Washington DC and teaches phonics (she is self employed, and her business is doing very well). Many of her students are children of wealthy immigrants. But a growing number of them are from well-to-do or upwardly mobile black families who do not want their children to embrace a "culture" that will hold them back in life. A command of the English language is obviously necessary for them to compete. I would like to see some statistics on the rate of disciplinary actions involving children from these families.
Why is it that every time a newspaper says that there is a crisis in education for black students, they say that the cause involves institutional racism, and in order to counter that institutional racism they suggest more funding to empower the supposedly racist institution even more? I never quite understood this line of thinking.
At the end of the day, we've had 20 years-plus of the WEA trying to figure out how to address this issue with it getting worse every year. As I'm not a graduate of Washington public education, I could only guess at the local moonbat math, but I believe somehow it comes out to a success rate that any bank would envy, give or take a decimal place.
Interesting analysis. Even more interesting in light of the fact that the policy of the state is to break families up and remove fathers from the lives of their children.
However, there is a bill currently in the state senate that would change that, at least somewhat: SB 6270 - Encouraging shared parental responsibility in child custody arrangements.
Currently, the policy is to give one parent custody and the other visitation "rights" and financial child support "responsibilities." The mother is almost always given custody and the father always given child support payments. The child support payments are enforced with threat of jail time, but visitation "rights" are not. There is no requirement that the woman spend the money on the child. Recent cases has shown that some drink it all and leave their children to starve to death. (Extreme case, but makes the point).
Over 70% of divorces are filed by women. Because there is a financial reward (child support) to the mother for playing the system, that is exactly what many women do. This too often involves false allegations of abuse. The way for a woman to sky-rocket her case is to file for a protection order, which automatically kicks the father out of the children's lives. From that point, family courts lay down at her feet and give her everything she wants. If domestic abuse were as rampant as the claims of it are in family court, you'd have to wonder how the human species has survived this far. Thankfully, it's much more rare than your local ideologically charged DV advocate wants you to believe.
In order to keep more fathers in the lives of their children, we need to change this system. SB 6270 would change the presumption of one parent with custody to a presumption of shared parenting. There will be less reward for gaming the system, and more of the focus will go towards best interest of the child instead of best financial interest of the mother.
If you pay attention, during the debate you will hear nonsense about how shared parenting will interfere with best interest of the child. Feminists like to confuse you by lumping "women and children" together when it suites their goals. Really, they are just saying that shared parenting will interfere with the financial interest of the mother in a contested divorce proceeding. (And, with the financial interest of the state, since the state gets federal reward money for collected child support payments).
Get the financial game out of divorce, and the focus truly will be on the best interests of the child. Obviously, the current system is not working. The Deadbeat Dads the media loves talking about are usually unemployed men with no hope of paying their child support arrearages combined with penalties.
But, worse, the current system is not working for children. The impact of not having a father involved in a child's life is measurable, and you see some of it in the graph Shark has posted.
Presumption of shared parenting does not mean "required." It just means "starting point" and then you go from there in defining best interests of the child. When it's best to keep the child with the mother, or with the father, the court will be able to do that. But, it will have to first consider a shared custody plan.
Shouldn't the policy of the state be to keep fathers involved in children's lives, as opposed to actively working to remove them?
Contact your state Senator and ask them to support SB 6270. This bill is sponsored by Kastama - a Democrat - so even the unfortunate conservatives who live in King County might be able to sway their moonbat Senator.
interesting graph--no order, no pointed or obvious conclusion; just random spatters; like an ink blot--proving? nothing;
more breaucracy will solve all; throw more money at it !
30. Thank you all for your very well-written and insightful comments. Its nice to have a civilized, intelligent discussion without those distracting tangential posts from those who disagree, but lack a good arguement of their own.