New Data Finds Huge Racial Disparities in America’s Public Schools

Education 03.21,14

The Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights on Friday released data providing a comprehensive look at how all 97,000 public schools in the United States are educating the nation’s children.

The data, which is from the 2011-12 school year, paint a bleak picture for minority students in our public schools.

“For the first time in the history of this country, a detailed picture of the multiple ways too many schools are harming our children is now available to every parent, educator and concerned citizen. Predictably and quite shamefully, that picture is not at all pretty,” said Wade Henderson, president and CEO of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights. “The CRDC shows that our nation continues to support essentially two education systems – one that works well for privileged students and one that is failing minority and low-income students, English learners, and students with disabilities. The continued failure of states and local school boards to eradicate these inequalities will ensure that millions of Americans’ dreams will be crushed and they will be effectively shut out of the increasingly high-skilled 21st century world economy.”

According to the data, racial disparities in school discipline start early. Black students account for 18 percent of preschool enrollment, but they represent 42 percent of preschool students who have been suspended once – and 48 percent of those suspended more than once.

“Ultimately, today’s release of this critical data presents the American people with the greatest moral challenge of our time: whether or not we can muster the public and political will to build an education system that prepares each and every child in America to take advantage of all the opportunities that the new economy will provide,” Henderson said.

The Leadership Conference urges Congress to include the $300 million the president has requested in the FY 2015 budget for the ‘Race to the Top – Equity and Opportunity’ grant competition so these disparities can be addressed.

Learn more about today’s release here.