Study: Teachers More Likely to Punish Black Kids

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A new Stanford University study reveals that Black students are punished more harshly than whites.

But it isn’t due to overt racism.

Researchers say the harsher discipline might be the result of unconscious partiality to white students, a phenomenon known as “implicit bias.”

The study also found that the bias might be just as likely to come from a Black teacher as a white one.

The findings aren’t confined to classroom walls. When students are suspended or expelled, it becomes much less likely that they will graduate or attend college. It’s much more likely they’ll get arrested, go to jail or even die at the hands of police.

In fact, many studies suggest that implicit bias plays a role at nearly every stage.

The lifelong impact of school disciplinary policies can affect all students, but Blacks are three and a half times more likely to be suspended or expelled than their white counterparts, according to a report released by the Department of Education. Another study published in January’s American Sociological Review found that the damage of high suspension rates goes beyond those pushed out of school. The study cited that the rates generate “collateral damage, negatively affecting the academic achievement on non-suspended students.”

These disparities are well documented, but the Stanford study is the first to experimentally suggest that unconscious bias plays a role in classroom discipline.

Black youth deserve a fair chance at life. Hopefully studies like this one will raise more awareness about the disparities faced by African American children.

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