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Chicago Public School students face racial discipline gap: Education Department

March 6, 2012

Nationally, black students are more than three-and-a-half times more likely than white students to be suspended or expelled, according to the Education Department’s Office for Civil Rights’ survey, known as the “Civil Rights Data Collection.” More than 70 percent of students arrested in school or handed over to law enforcement were black or Hispanic.

….”Some of the worst discrepancies are in my home town of Chicago,” U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, who formerly led the Chicago Public Schools (CPS) system, said on a Monday call with reporters. “We began peer juries where students were responsible for disciplining each other and finding alternative ways to resolve disputes. It is clear that Chicago –- and many other cities — still have a lot more work to do.”

….The report came amid a Monday protest outside the Cook County Juvenile Center, which serves Chicago and surrounding areas. At the center, Voices of Youth In Chicago Education urged CPS to relax its disciplinary actions.

VOYCE calculated that CPS students lost a total of 306,731 days of school last year because of out-of-school suspensions, even as punishment for non-violent incidents, the Chicago Sun-Times reports. Such actions, the group argues, negatively impact educational outcomes for largely minority students.

“We need a discipline code that works for all students, not one that sends black and Latino students on a path to prison,” Roosevelt High School student Victor Alquicera told CBS Chicago at the rally.

Middle-school suspensions are a top indicator of dropouts, said Dan Losen, who directs the University of California, Los Angeles Center for Civil Rights Remedies. “The answer to every minor misbehavior can’t be suspension,” Losen told The Huffington Post. “Schoolwide positive behavior interventions, restorative justice, classroom management stuff, all these things do tend to reduce suspension rates.”

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