Beyond Data: Percent of Suspensions by Race

To understand the many dimensions to an issue, engaging the community is essential to understanding the context for data.

To bring this data to life, we asked New Orleans residents how they relate to the data in The Youth Index 2016. Here’s what they had to say about the topic of Percent of Suspensions by Race:

I’m a mother and grandmother of black males and I feel the system in all, from every angle, does not have my sons’ and grandsons’ best interest when it comes to education, criminal justice and economics. My community is effected by this because there are limited resources or no resources to benefit the people’s needs.  We need programs for our children so that they can grow in the areas where they feel most comfortable that will help them become productive citizens in the future. We as parents, guardians, and concerned citizens need to demand the necessary tools it takes to provide for our children so that they may become successful students and leaders of tomorrow.”

– African American Female, Intake specialist, age 61

This hits home for me both personally and professionally because as a result of the increased school suspensions, 5 out of 8 of my male cousins between the ages of 15 to 27 are currently incarcerated with 5 to 12 years of jail time. As a former principal, I used alternative measures instead of out of school suspensions.”

– African American Female, age 47

I think that out of school suspensions are  so high is because of minor infractions that don’t put children in danger. Schools try to justify it by saying they’re trying to discipline them. They are  really hurting kids by putting them outside of school because they have on the wrong color shoes or the wrong socks. For example, a student may lose their tie, but his parents can’t afford another tie, and the school doesn’t give him a chance to explain the situation. I think if schools would cut the ridiculous rules, the percentage would go down.”

– African American Female, recent high school graduate, age 18

I want to say fear, but that’s not the word I want to use. I think teachers and administrators just look at us (Black students) like if we don’t follow directions, we’re automatically never going to follow instructions, we’re being delinquent on purpose, or like there’s no explanation to why we’re doing something. They just think it’s in our nature to not listen. There are people in administration that do know that there’s a different side, so their first step isn’t to call the dean. They try to see what’s going on with the student before calling the dean or putting the student out of class. But, the teachers and administrators that don’t know how to handle kids or relate to them just assume things and they automatically call the dean or write them up for a suspension. That’s their first go to.”

– African American Female, recent high school graduate, age 18

The percent of suspensions by race was troubling to me as the lack of education is one of the keys to solving many of the future problems young people, especially black people, in our city face. The Youth Index data shows that Black kids were suspended at over 3 times the rate as white kids in New Orleans. What are black kids doing that white kids aren’t? Or better yet, what are black kids getting suspended for that white kids aren’t?”

– African American Female, Former Opportunity Youth, Youth Engagement Coordinator, age 24