Posted on June 27, 2018

Sacramento Schools Suspend More Black Boys Than Any Other City in California

Sacramento Observer, June 26, 2018

In a scathing new report, prominent education researchers from San Diego State University (SDSU) and UCLA have identified Sacramento City Unified School District (SCUSD) as the number one suspension district for Black males in the state of California — suspending one out of every five Black boys.

This dubious honor is further worsened by the fact that the district suspends more Black males than districts that enroll far more Black male students such as Oakland Unified, San Diego Unified, and Long Beach Unified. As an example, in 2016-2017, SCUSD’s total suspensions of Black males even exceeded those of Los Angeles Unified which enrolls nearly seven times more Black male students than the district.

The report was written by professors Luke Wood and Frank Harris from San Diego State University and Tyrone Howard from UCLA. They are among the leading scholars in the nation on Black boys and men in education. These findings are among a sampling of results that led the report “The Capitol of Suspensions: Examining the Racial Exclusion of Black Males in Sacramento County.”

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These data are further reinforced by the fact that Sacramento County suspends Black boys in kindergarten through third grade at a rate that is 9.9 times higher than the statewide average. {snip}

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“To no fault of their own, Black boys continue to be disadvantaged and disenfranchised in California’s public schools and Sacramento is ground zero. Educational leaders should view this report and the data presented as a clarion call to do what’s right and necessary to serve Black boys equitably and responsibly” said professor Harris.

While the report does not detail the reasons why the suspensions are occurring, the report authors suggest that these patterns are part of the ongoing racism faced by Black boys and young men in society.

“No other group of students encounters these discriminatory and often hostile circumstances in their effort to learn,” said professor Howard.

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Howard, who is a co-author on the report, leads a prominent center at UCLA called the Black Male Institute that is dedicating to improving the educational experiences and life chances of Black males.

Part of a greater effort to address the concerns is the Greater Sacramento NAACP, who commissioned the report. Branch president Betty Williams noted that the report is part of a larger effort to highlight exclusionary practices in education which will include a series of town halls.

“We have entered a time when historic, racist, federal policy has cunningly morphed into implementing new ways to perpetuate the historic, racialized marginalization of our Black and Brown community, even at the local levels,” Ms. Williams said.

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Is My Child’s School on the List?

Beyond identifying school districts in need of improvement, the report also highlights schools within these districts that have high rates of suspension. The report provides a listing of 44 schools in the county that have suspension rates of 30 percent or higher for Black males.

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“For every Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown and Eric Garner, there are thousands of Trayvon’s, Michael’s, and Eric’s in our classrooms every day. We are seeing the manifestation of what occurs in policing in the classroom — our young boys are being criminalized and undervalued,” he added.

When asked about how parents should respond, professor Harris noted: “Every parent has the responsibility to protect their child from hostile environments and some schools in the county represent those environments. {snip}”