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March 5, 2021

Racial equity in school discipline: Starting in the classroom

Black students are suspended or expelled from schools at disproportionately higher rates than other students, and data show the problem is progressively getting worse at the elementary level.

The issue, researchers argue, starts in the classroom where teachers make disciplinary referrals to the school office. A team at Michigan State University hopes it can help change this pattern by increasing teachers’ empathy and critical race consciousness.

“We know from research that teachers read students’ behavior in culturally nuanced ways, based on their own assumptions and stereotypes about different racial groups,” said Dorinda Carter Andrews, lead researcher on the new project, which is being funded by a three-year, nearly $600,000 grant from the William T. Grant Foundation.

“There are large numbers of Black students in urban schools; however, their teachers are often white. And they are more likely than teachers of color to over-refer Black students for what is deemed negative behavior.”

For the full story, visit the College of Education website.

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