Data released by the Howard County Public School System revealed that black students in the county served 57 percent of the suspensions handed out in the 2013-2014 academic year, while comprising only 22 percent of the student body. All in all, black students were seven times more likely to face suspension than white students were.
As the Baltimore Sun reports, this is a more severe example of what is a nationwide disparity; black students in general in the United States are three times more likely to face suspension.
In the view of Towanda Brown of the African American Community Roundtable — an organization that promotes academic achievement, healthy living, and unity among Howard County’s African American residents — the suspensions have a negative effect on black students’ psyche. “The kids think they’re always wrong and they don’t have the right to express themselves,” Brown told the Sun. “A lot of them have been deflated.”
On top of the demoralizing effect they’ve been shown to have, out-of-school suspensions, like any other absences, make it harder for students to stay on top of their studies.
In an effort to minimize suspensions, HCPSS has recently decided to remove the punishment as an option in cases of “disrespect, insubordination, and disruption,” according to the Sun.
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