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Why are black kids disciplined more than whites in schools?

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SEATTLE — It’s a disturbing trend that goes back nearly 20 years in Seattle public schools: Numbers show African American students are being disciplined more often, and some say more harshly, than other kids.

The U.S. Education Department is looking into possible discrimination in the Seattle Public Schools, following up on allegations and research that white students are treated better than black students.

According to Seattle Public Schools figures, more than 13%, or 408, black high school students were suspended in 2012, while only 4%, or 228, white students were given the same punishment.

“The numbers are startling in terms of what appears to be inequity,” said James Bible of the NAACP.

Bible feels the district is openly discriminating against black students.

“It’s not just the disproportionality. It’s the belief or knowledge that people are being sanctioned differently for the same exact actions, so what we’re hoping for is equitable and equal treatment that way,” said Bible.

Friends of the Children is a nonprofit organization that mentors at-risk youth starting in kindergarten, with the goal of getting them to graduation. They say another part of this puzzle is helping African American families prioritize education in their students’ lives.

“Kids come home and they’re homeless; they can have parents who have been arrested, or family members who have died from gang violence,” said program manager Edgar Masmela. “Homework at that point is very low on their priority list.

“But it’s the mentor’s job to ensure that work gets done. We’re in the schools, talking to the teachers, finding out what are the missing assignments and we’re really a preventative model to make sure that child doesn’t repeat the cycle,” said Masmela.

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  • Darrell

    If discipline is required so be it if stats say the black are the most out of control. Look at their homelike that pretty well says it all. I'm sure it won't be the first time it has happened.

  • Meg

    They also have the highest number of abortions. In New York City, there are more black abortions per 1,000 births than there are births. As Mother Theresa said, “Abortion is the greatest threat against peace.”

  • spork

    What we need is a limit: a black child can only be disciplined if more white children then black children have. This is the sort of idiotic solutions you get to "problems" such as these. The fact is white kids and black kids are NOT equal. They are raised differently under different cultural circumstances.

  • spork

    I have one question: What about Asian students? How do their numbers rank? More Asian children being disciplined than black or white? When I was in school in Seattle, my schools had more Asians than any one other race. Why do these numbers only include whites and black and never everyone? If whites are discriminating against blacks for racial reasons, one would think there would be more Asians than whites being disciplined.

    • spork

      Oops, just saw the asian ranking. :D Lets note whites must be being discriminated against vs asian students based on these numbers.

  • Bootlegger59

    It's pretty self evident, White kids, on the whole, are taught more about behaving, right and wrong, and by and large, have a much better home life. Quit trying this comparison of 'races', all it does is show who are better people overall. We're all not equal, and that is the truth of the matter. Perhaps as humans, we are, but, that's about all. blacks and asians are just too intent on being 'separate but equal', they are almost totally oblivious of Whites and are very, very clannish.


    Liberals are always eager to promote the idea that blacks are poor helpless victims. Maybe the answer is simply that black students cause more problems in school and are therefore disciplined more frequently. It isn't really that complicated.

  • Polly Wanna

    It's not rocket science as to why. Nearly 80% of Seattle Public School teachers are white. Most white people hate black people so why is it a shocker that they would punish black kids more harshly than whites? Whites believe their kids do no wrong and as a former educator I can tell you this is 100% false. In a recent CNN documentary about severe bullying "every" child that bullied the kid in this video was a white kid. But no one even thinks of punishing these white kids or holding their parents accountable for driving some kids to suicide for severe bullying. If you believe your white child is a perfect angel in school you are in serious in denial.

    • spork

      Polly, this isnt the 50s.. im am 37 and i never hated black folks. no one i knew in hs ever hated black folks.. but who was it with the ak-47s and uzis? while kids? no.. asians or blacks.. this isnt hate… it is fact. hell i likes black culture in my day. but looking back, man… black kids had access to weapons and dugs …. it's not race… its just culture.

      • Treshiba Solomon

        I believe gang banging came from the Irish culture , but the police are the biggest gang bangers in the world you people can take everything else but not my freedom again

    • Polly Wanna

      Sooo if I were to follow your logic all white people are hard working? That's funny because for hundreds of years they had slaves do the hard work of building the US economy. If white people were so hard working it would seem that Europe's rejects would have done all the hard work themselves. And exactly what jobs are Mexicans and Asians "taking" from white people? Last numbers I saw, white people had a higher employment rate than all other races.

    • DDL

      Clearly you don't know many black people because this stereotype does not fit at all with reality. Given that that 90% of the comments on this article are disgustingly and overtly racist I think we can assume that maybe some of that bias is carrying over into discipline in the Seattle public schools…

  • erika

    Congragulations Ken, you've got the most ignorant post on this article! The blame game isn't going to do anything to help improve the FUTURE of all these kids. Culture, race, economic staus, what not, kids are in school the majority of the day, the education system is failing. Its not the districts responsablity to parent them, but it is to educate them. If they did, maybe the outcome would be different.

    • Duehling

      Its easy to blame the schools for a social problem, but as Mr. Masmela reported homework and education are low on the priority list when you are homeless. If you want the schools to solve this problem then you will need to pay a lot more in taxes so they can buy the housing. To often we get hung up on pointing fingers and refuse to look at the real issues.

  • guest

    This argument is so old! They also complain about a disproportionate number of blacks in our prisons. Isn't it just possible that they are causing the most trouble, hence the most disciplined or incarcerated? It is a reflection of the way they are raised with a lack of meaningful parental involvment in most cases.

    • Treshiba Solomon

      No ones had a respond to when i was talking about white kids shooting up the schools,well that happens because lack of attention, so diciplining in not always the key

  • Block Watcher

    Unfortunately, teachers do not have time to nurture each student and help them succeed. It's a group experience with too many distractions. The kids that come into the public schools from broken homes have a harder time conforming to the rules and regulations. Schools are a place to learn and grow, but you've got to listen, do the work and have an open mind to new opportunities.