Study: Black Girls Are Being Pushed Out of School

NPR

News surrounding a confrontation in a Baltimore school is raising new questions about the role race plays in discipline for black girls. Baltimore television station WBAL has been reporting on an October incident that led to three students at the city's Vanguard Middle School being injured, and later arrested and suspended, after an altercation with a school security officer. 


School officials have supported the officer's assertion that she was attacked, kicked and punched by the girls, but the school's security tape shows something more complicated. By the end of the incident, the officer had struck one of the girls repeatedly with her baton — causing an injury that required multiple stitches — and pepper sprayed the two others. All three girls required treatment at a hospital.


The state's attorney dropped the criminal charges after viewing the tape and photos of the students' injuries, and the officer involved — who is African-American — has been placed on administrative leave, pending an investigation. But the girls have been reassigned to a school for troubled teens, something their families are fighting in court.


It's just one incident of many that have played out across the country in which reported misconducted by black girls at school prompts a seemingly disproportionate — and often violent — response by school and local authorities.


But why? That's what Columbia University law professor Kimberle Williams Crenshaw and her associates, Priscilla Ocen and Jyoti Nanda, set out to explain in their study, Black Girls Matter: Pushed Out, Overpoliced and Underprotected


They examined data from public schools in Boston and New York City, and the results are startling: Girls of color, and especially black girls, are subject to discipline that is harsher and more frequent than that of their white peers, and are six times more likely to be suspended than white girls. The racial disparities in punishment are greater for girls than for boys...


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