Prior Problem Behavior Accounts for the Racial Gap in School Suspensions

Journal of Criminal Justice, February 26, 2014



A large body of empirical research finds a significant racial gap in the use of exclusionary school discipline with black students punished at rates disproportionate to whites. Furthermore, no variable or set of variables have yet to account for this discrepancy, inviting speculation that this association is caused by racial bias or racial antipathy. We investigate this link and the possibility that differential behavior may play a role.


Using data from the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study, Kindergarten Class (ECLS-K), the largest sample of school-aged children in the United States, we first replicate the results of prior studies. We then estimate a second model controlling for prior problem behavior.


Replicating prior studies, we first show a clear racial gap between black and white students in suspensions. However, in subsequent analyses the racial gap in suspensions was completely accounted for by a measure of the prior problem behavior of the student–a finding never before reported in the literature.


These findings highlight the importance of early problem behaviors and suggest that the use of suspensions by teachers and administrators may not have been as racially biased as some scholars have argued.

[Editor’s Note: The full study can be found here.]

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  • MekongDelta69

    Blah, blah, blah – another million word ‘study,’ stating what anybody with a (warm) room temperature IQ has known forever.

    • APaige

      Common sense says people are responsible for the consequences of their behavior.
      Progressive nonsense says there is no way Black behavior is the cause of school discipline.
      Study backs common sense…like it needed to!

  • Tom Mixx

    For the most part, anyone who has the IQ blacks have will become hard to handle once they top out intellectually, which in their case comes around 3-4 grade, give or take a year or two.

    • Bill

      Yup. Thirteen or 14 is when they become totally unmanageable and often violent. Though we have been seeing blacks as young as ten now involved in mob attacks and shootings. You see, we tell them they can and should all be rocket scientists. They were NEVER of that quality. But what’s left when they come up against their genetic limitations about 13 years old and everybody else is moving ahead? Gotta be racism. But inside, deep inside, they understand it is THEM. They just aren’t as smart and never will be. We used to keep them employed and occupied in jobs that met their abilities and respected them for it, and told them they were to be respected for doing those jobs. They had no choice. If they didn’t work, they didn’t eat. But come LBJ’s great society they became what they are now. An unruly, uncivilized, violent sub culture destroying the nation from within and expecting everything be given them. There are solutions to this problem, very few workable ones. Ones nobody wants to talk about. They are the ONLY workable solutions.

      • MBlanc46

        Thirteen or fourteen is about it. Years ago, I read a number of biographical sketches of rural black blues musicians. A recurring theme was something on the order of, “I got to be about 13 and figured I was too big for people to be telling me what to do, so I lit out of home and hit the road”.

        • dewdly

          Changes in the brain at puberty place a cap on intellectual development. Races with early puberty cease developing at an earlier age. In addition, I have thought that for boys puberty signals the need to identify with the males of one’s race. For non-whites in a white society the racial/cultural affiliation cannot be recreated as their evolution would dictate and the best they can do is to form quasi tribes or gangs.

          • While that’s true generally, I have heard that there are racial differences in the way puberty caps mental development. In blacks, it’s a hard cap, while in whites, it’s a soft cap.

            I do know that the best time to help very intelligent children develop their interest in whatever is the three or so years before puberty.

        • Laura Dilworth

          their adult personal lives weren’t always stellar

          • MBlanc46

            Not by white standards, of course, but the people I’m talking about achieved serious renown as musicians.

      • Grantland

        “If they didn’t work, they didn’t eat.” That’s not too draconian is it? And harsh punishment for crime.

      • Johnny Clay

        I knew a lot of young blacks who were as nice as could be before they hit puberty, but once the hormones kicked in, they became everything I feared about blacks.

        • Katherine McChesney

          I’ve known some recently who were behaving like thugs before they were teens. Two of them were female. Their section 8 grandparents do nothing to discipline them. They let them run wild while destroying our property.

  • I’m glad someone finally tracked these and was then honest enough to admit they are not independent variables. Common sense (uncommon these days) has long said that the best indication of future performance is past behavior.

    • Laura Dilworth

      priors are also the reason that blacks tend to serve longer prison sentences than whites

      • Priors are calculated directly into federal sentencing guidelines. I believe a misdemeanor is one point, but these expire after about ten years. Each felony is three points, and these never go away. The message from the feds is “If you have been in trouble, cut that moderated “stuff” out!”

        • Laura Dilworth

          people can have their records expunged

          • Impossible with a federal conviction these days without a Presidential pardon. With state stuff it is much less difficult.

          • Laura Dilworth


  • Luca

    I still want to hear about the rate at which black teachers are disciplining black students. I think we’ll find that they are more “racist” than Whites ever dreamed of being.

    • BonV.Vant

      I think we will hear that they just put on a movie or something , leave the room and close the door and take off for an hour or so and get their hair, nails etc done. Oh wait, we already heard this:

    • Alfred the Great

      While in the Army, there was a company First Sergeant (1SG) accused of racism by a black soldier. So the IG was called in to investigate. When the IG walked in the door to interview the 1SG, he saw that the 1SG was black.

    • Nancy

      I used to teach in the Atlanta ghetto in the early 90s and only lasted a couple of years before I ran screaming out of there. But I can testify that the black teachers are the ONLY adults these students are afraid of, as they seemed to fear a black teacher might “jack them up” if they misbehaved (whatever that means). But as a white teacher, the phrase they loved to throw at me most was, “My momma SUE!” (As in: you can’t do **** to me or my momma be takin yo’ a** to court.)

      These were first-graders, by the way.

      • Grantland

        Disgusting little animals, like baby vipers.

  • Puggg

    Groundbreaking social science this is, that schools only suspend students because they misbehave in a way to warrant a suspension.

    Next thing you know they’ll tell us that cops arrest people because there was a reasonable suspicion that they committed an arrest worthy crime.

  • I offer my condolences to the profs who published this study. They just blew any chance of getting a raise for the next couple of years. As for me, I always taught my students that if research makes common sense to you, then it’s probably sound. This study is bulletproof.

    • In industry we basically did the same thing: if one gets an experimental result and one’s explanation for it sounds peculiar, think through exactly what that explanation would mean in a physical sense. I had my subordinates quickly doing that; we called it a “quick reality-check”.

    • dcc2379

      Just ask Mike Adams.

      • LHathaway

        What has Mike Adams, of the University of North Carolina at Wilmington, been up to lately?

    • Rosenmops

      They will be drummed out of academia. Probably never work again.

  • BonV.Vant

    Wow! They are just a hair’s breadth away from admitting that negroes behave differently than whites. They are admitting that there is more problem behavior amongst negroes. The truth always has a way of oozing through the finest of cracks in the tightest of government containments, like “the blob”, and engulfing those who try to suppress it. My prediction is that libs will soon be saying that black behavior IS different than whites, and they will be acting like they alone just made this discovery. They will say their conclusions though are different than the conclusions of others who they consider “racist”, because they will not carry any judgements or hatred but an objective assessment of the facts. The “solutions” they will propose will be said to be more “hugh-mayyyyyynn”. Their solutions will run into resistance from the dark ones because they will not be willing to give up their special position of black entitlement mentality: “EBT -and I get it for free or I will sue a whitey, society owes me. I gits me sum affirmative action or I gibs some knock out game action”
    No, their solutions will be limp wristed , condescending, pantywaste, academic gobbledygook . When their solutions fail, then they just might give up the precious illusions of moral superiority that they are clinging so tightly to.

    • Fighting_Northern_Spirit

      We’ve had black and/or liberal admissions of behavioral differences before, always with an accusing finger pointed at Whites: “Blacks have different learning styles! It’s racist to expect them to behave and conform to Eurocentric norms! Our schools fail them!”

      • BonV.Vant

        My favorite one was when some black made the claim that blacks are genetically incapable of speaking correct English and therefore ebonics is genetic

      • MBlanc46

        To which the obvious reply is, “Segregated schools”.

        • Fighting_Northern_Spirit

          You can actually get liberal support for that…until they try it. When the NAM test scores stay at rock bottom, then the whining for integration starts up and the whole cycle repeats.

          • MBlanc46

            I’m not quite sure who you mean by “liberals”, but you don’t hear affluent whites in the Chicago area whining for integration. They make sure that the schools that their children go to are “selective”, i.e., mostly white and Asian.

        • Secret Person

          Particularly since they’re always insisting that only blacks can teach blacks. We know how well that’s turning out.

          • MBlanc46

            I suppose that it turns out about as well as it could given what they’ve got to work with, but as long as young whites aren’t suffering, it’s not really my concern.

  • Ed

    They need a study to reach this conclusion? Visit any urban school and ask any of the Black teachers they’ll say the truth, many of the Black kids are simply bad.

    • dcc2379

      Ed, actually, in virtually every study, black teachers report black students lower than white teachers do. The probable reason is that white liberals don’t want yo appear racist or, if they state the truth aloud, they will be ostracized. Naturally, anyone around blacks know what is self-evident.

    • MBlanc46

      Even when they’re not really bad, they’re out of control.

  • Alfred the Great

    When dealing with blacks, it is ALWAYS somebody else’s fault.

  • blight14

    My goodness, any nation that has the level of intelligence required to unmask this level of ‘insight’ will surely colonize Mars in the next couple of weeks…….cold fusion will be child’s play compared to this discovery.
    PS: In related news, the sun was found to rise in the east.

  • Kenner

    OT…or not: Ambrose Kane has a hilarious video depicting that classic moment of vibrancy when a brotha or sista ‘lose it’. [The phrase is not allowed here.]
    It’s set to ‘Brick House’ with original lyrics. As good as the original, animated version of Shirley Q Liquor’s ‘Who’s My Baby’s Daddy?’–!

  • leftists are delusional

    So let me get this straight. The needed a study to figure out that black kids behave worse than white kids?

    • Reverend Bacon

      Correct, because simply noticing it without scientific proof makes one a racist. Even with scientific proof, I suspect.

      • The term “hate facts” has already been coined and is in widespread use.

        • leftists are delusional

          Leftists hate facts.
          Sunshine and vampire level hate.

      • leftists are delusional

        Racism is just a social construct.

    • FozzieT

      A separate study has determined that the sun rises in the East, and sets in the West.

      • WR_the_realist

        Don’t you realize that the apparent motion of the sun in the sky is due to racism? Racism is the cause of everything we observe. So even quantum mechanics and gravity are due to racism. That’s what we learn from academic progressives.

  • Reverend Bacon

    Thank you for finding and re-publishing this, Amren.

    Perhaps it would be useful to send this paper to the guy who issued Executive Order on July 26, 2012, with the Newspeak title, “White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for African Americans.” And the AG and the Sec’y of Education have combined to follow this bogusness with more bogusness of their own. See their mendacious Jan. 8, 2014 “School Discipline Guidance Package to Enhance School Climate
    and Improve School Discipline Policies/Practices.”

  • Of course, but at least this time, we received an honest answer for the money. How often do we get nonsense, instead?

  • Rhialto

    I wonder if any of the paper’s authors know the difference between cause and correlation. Let me explain: High testosterone and low intelligence is positively correlated to both “problem behavior” and suspensions. QED.

  • Alexandra1973

    There were two junior high schools in my school district. I went to the one on the wrong side of the tracks so to speak.

    Looking back, now I know why it was the worse of the two. Lots of blacks.

    They were forever getting in fights and causing trouble. I remember the last day of school one year, I’d just finished eighth grade–and there were two black girls in a catfight on the front steps of the school.

    In ninth grade I had Health class. One black girl said in so many words said she could teach the class since she had a lot of experience. Out loud, I might add. Yeah, it was real fun when we’d break up into groups in that class…who needs to read a racy novel when you have these people basically giving you a play-by-play of what they did in the back of a car?

    • dcc2379

      I would have told her what she and her brother do is no one’s business except theirs and the welfare office.

  • MBlanc46

    Well I’ll be danged. Who’d have thunk that the reason Negro kids are expelled from school more often than white kids is that they misbehave more?

    • Alexandra1973

      Somehow it’ll be blamed on poverty. Which somehow will lead back to blaming Whitey.

      • MBlanc46

        That’s the debating tactic, of course, but I suspect that it’s wearing thin with a lot of people.

        • dcc2379

          No, they’re just as smart and all want an education. We just need to transfer more white wealth. Seem there is nothing intrinsically wrong. Listen to white after white tell this like statistical truth while claiming people like Murray are racist.

          • MBlanc46

            “White after white” of the chattering classes, perhaps, but that’s not the sort of thing I hear from my neighbors. We all tend to keep our racial views pretty close to the vest, but the “code words” and the cautious allusions make it pretty clear that most of us have pretty realistic views about race. That and the fact that everyone with kids sends them to the Catholic high schools because the local high school is fuxated.

  • MBlanc46

    Obvious to us, perhaps, but there’s an entire industry devoted to proving to society that racism is the cause of differential suspension and expulsion, and any other action which negatively affects blacks. The mere fact that someone would dare to publish in an academic journal that the cause is disruptive black behavior is a cause for rejoicing.

  • Einsatzgrenadier

    If you want to ruin anything, just add blacks. Works each and every single time.

  • John R

    Really? So the cause of the high rates of suspensions for blacks is the students’ behavior and not racism on the part of the teacher? Gee. I am so surprised by this!

  • James Bro

    Blacks will forever blame their own failure on some imaginary boogyman, if not the “white man” they will come up with something else. Never will the truth be accepted by the negro, the truth that on average they are inferior in most aspects of intelligence and behavior.

  • Garrett Brown

    Gasp! No way!

  • bubo

    The “scholars” that believe in a mass conspiracy by teachers to unfairly discipline blacks are agenda driven liars. Fruitcakes that lie so much they can’t tell what the truth actually is.
    Occam’s razor dictates the simplest answer is usually the correct one. Blacks misbehave more than other races by a multitude of tens. Stone cold truth. Nothing more.

    • dcc2379

      The irony is that most teachers are card carrying neo-communists that vote monolithically Democrat, are dumber than the average college graduate based off of every known metric, and at the end of the day, these disingenuous white liberals accept blame for being secret KKK conspirators. Unbelievable.

    • Hallie Eva

      Blacks misbehave more than other races by a multitude of tens. Stone cold truth.

      Your wise lips to my ears. Thank you, bubo.
      Are you on SBPDL also?

  • Randall Ward

    Actually teachers try to give blacks more slack than they do whites. It is the same way in the military. So the difference in behavior between whites and blacks is probably worse than reported.

    • William Krapek

      That’s true. We have much lower expectations for them than we have for ourselves.

      • Having been to federal prison, I certainly have much lower expectations for them, but my answer to this problem is deportation. Once again, I am voting for the bottom of the ocean.

        • Laura Dilworth

          must have been scary

        • bilderbuster

          I’ll second that & nominate the Marianas Trench as their new homeland.

    • Laura Dilworth

      same thing goes at the post office

  • Stephen Manning

    “Many Whites are quite intelligent….. but they are literally devoid of wisdom and common sense.” Amen. I have “christened” Whites as The Most Foolish People On The Planet. ©

    • bilderbuster

      The most brainwashed by the media maybe but it was only a few decades ago that even foolish Whites would never have any of this multicultural/diversity garbage.

      • Laura Dilworth

        frankfurt school

        • bilderbuster

          Yes & you can even see it in the movies going back to the 30’s & 40’s.
          The White Genocide plan is so very simple & sometimes the hardest thing to see is what’s just under your nose.

          • Laura Dilworth


  • bilderbuster

    The entire Neo-con movement was founded by Trotskyites who are neither White or conservatives.


    The antics of blacks never surprise me! Blacks will be blacks, whether in the Jungles of Africa or in the streets of Washington, District of Corruption. Rather than lament on their obvious propensity for social chaos we should be seeking ways to curb such black behaviour. Regrettably while Americans still foolishly think that things can be done through the democratic process nothing of any real value will be done. The late and great Professor Revilo Oliver along with the late and great Dr. William Luther Pierce
    spelt it out in no uncertain terms. We need a complete economic collapse of the “system” to awaken the couch potatoes, the lemmings, the jack and jill six-packs and the sally soccer-moms. Yes the liberals and their entourage of black bros might be the numerical majority, or at least the loudest minority, but they will fail. Liberals are cowards and blacks are just plain stupid. This group’s lack of honour and intellect will be their undoing. The day of the rope is coming sooner than later.

    Talking of blacks, I noted that Amazon has a new book for sale on European culture, entitled “The Making of Europe.” It has some congoid ape on the cover. It makes we wonder if the publishers got the title wrong. A more appropriate title, in view of the cover should be “The Making of European Zoos” or perhaps the Destruction of European values. Thus the titles are many and varied. So take your pick!

  • Paleoconn

    I didn’t bother reading the study, but if they really wanted to show how un-racist discipline proceedings in schools are, they should compare black teacher-white student to black teacher-black student stats. Methinks the black students are largely the ones most disciplined in these scenarios too.

  • r j p

    We just had a 15 YO eighth grader arrested for bringing a gun to elementary school in Chicago.