I remember being suspended for “insubordination” in sixth grade. I thought my teacher just didn’t like me. I didn’t know I was experiencing something much deeper and more problematic. It wasn’t just one bad teacher. The entire school district was four times more likely to suspend students who looked like me—Black boys—than our White peers. And while I didn’t have the information I needed to make sense of my situation then, we now have all the tools we need to fight back.
This week, the United States Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights Data Collection released new data on racial disparities and other forms of discrimination in virtually every school and school district in America, from pre-K through 12th grade. Collected every two years, the data shows which groups of students each school suspends each year, who gets referred to police, who gets arrested at school and who gets access to high quality teachers and advanced courses. This is an invaluable resource for students, parents and educators to dismantle the school to prison pipeline and address systemic injustices in our nation’s schools. Here’s how you use it to combat racism in your school:
1. Find your school or district. Go to the site and look up the most recent data available for your school or district. Right now, that’s data from the 2015-16 school year.
2. Pull up your school’s profile. When you click on your school, it will pull up a profile that shows basic information about the students and teachers in the school. There are several links on the right side where you can find data on school discipline, access to gifted and advanced classes, and other issues.