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Another Racial Disparity Claim Debunked

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Investors Business Daily has this editorial:

As the attorney general again warns schools that even race-neutral discipline policies discriminate against black students, a study finds serial misbehavior "completely" explains the racial gap in suspensions.

The first-of-its-kind longitudinal study published in the Journal of Criminal Justice tracks black and white students from kindergarten through eighth grade, with the data set spanning the years 1998 to 2007.

It confirms the obvious: Differences in behavior -- namely, repeat classroom offenses -- explain differences in discipline, not racism by school officials or worse treatment of black offenders compared with similarly situated white offenders, as this race-obsessed administration has so recklessly alleged.
Citation and abstract follow the break.
Wright, J.P, Morgan, M.A., Coyne, M.A., Beaver, K.M. & Barnes, J.C. (2014). Prior problem behavior accounts for the racial gap in school suspensions. Journal of Criminal Justice, 42, 257-266.



A large body of empirical research finds a significant racial gap in the use of exclusionary school discipline with black students punished at rates disproportionate to whites. Furthermore, no variable or set of variables have yet to account for this discrepancy, inviting speculation that this association is caused by racial bias or racial antipathy. We investigate this link and the possibility that differential behavior may play a role.


Using data from the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study, Kindergarten Class (ECLS-K), the largest sample of school-aged children in the United States, we first replicate the results of prior studies. We then estimate a second model controlling for prior problem behavior.


Replicating prior studies, we first show a clear racial gap between black and white students in suspensions. However, in subsequent analyses the racial gap in suspensions was completely accounted for by a measure of the prior problem behavior of the student - a finding never before reported in the literature.


These findings highlight the importance of early problem behaviors and suggest that the use of suspensions by teachers and administrators may not have been as racially biased as some scholars have argued.

1 Comment

This research will hopefully debunk one the most dangerous and reckless racial canards proffered by the Obama administration. More likely, Holder will continue to blackmail any school district that attempts to maintain order in the classroom-letting the chips fall where they may.

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