By: Krystle Crossman
Minneapolis, Minnesota superintendent Bernadeia Johnson is making sure that students of color are getting the same treatment as white students when it comes to suspension in their schools. Black children are suspended ten times more than white students and she wants to make sure that changes. In order to do so she has come up with new guidelines for her schools.
Whenever a school in Johnson’s district wants to suspend a student for a non-violent offense they must first bring it to her attention and get her permission to do so before officially suspending the student. She had also put guidelines in earlier this year that suspensions were not allowed for children from pre-kindergarten through first grade. This is a great thing that the superintendent is doing and could have a very positive effect on students of color in these schools. Unfortunately this problem does not just lie in Minnesota. Over-suspension of students of color happens in every state in America.
The guidelines that were set out by Johnson were part of an agreement with the Civil Rights office at the U.S. Department of Education. This agreement states that it is going to increase the staff at public school and increase the student involvement at the schools. They want to give all students a chance to get the best education that they possibly can and have all students treated as equals. Data from a study of schools across the country shows that 20% of black boys are suspended during their school career and 12% of black girls are.
Johnson is setting an example for school districts all over the nation in showing that the suspension rates for students of color are far too high and something needs to be done about it. The preschool to prison pipeline is still a very real thing and so many students are not getting the education that they deserve because they are being unfairly punished. Some students never recover from these punishments and end up feeling like they are already labeled as bad kids, so why not continue with the bad behavior. This lands them in prison at early ages.