By Dr. Sinclair Grey III
Sadly and shamefully, there’s a trend happening in America which shows Black students receiving criminalized treatment compared to their White counterparts. It’s unfair and unjust that so many Black students are labelled and punished more severely for negative behavior while many White students receive medical treatment.
Let’s face it – when it comes to suspensions, expulsions, and being referred to law enforcement, Black students are at the top of the list. Because so many Black students are at the top of this spectrum, the school-to-prison pipeline is increasing. What’s not shocking is that White students are more likely to receive medical and psychological treatment. All of this was included in a new study released last week in the journal Sociology of Education.
David Ramey, an assistant professor of sociology and criminology at Pennsylvania State University conducted the study. In the study, Ramey gathered information from 59,000 schools across the country and analyzed the rates of suspensions, expulsions, and police referrals. In addition to this, he also looked into how many students were enrolled in the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. Both of these programs are designed to help kids who need special services.
According to the Huffington Post, “Ramey found that schools with larger populations of black students also had higher rates of suspensions, while schools with more white students had a greater number of kids in programs designed for students with special needs.”
Here’s what you need to know. For students to qualify for IDEA (Individuals with Disabilities Education Act) they must be given an official diagnosis as to why they need extra help. This has to come from a medical or mental health professional. For students to qualify for Section 504 ‘students must display a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities but don’t need an official diagnosis.’ Schools are given funds for IDEA which is a costly service from the government. On the other hand, schools don’t receive funding for Section 504 which means they (the school) has to draw upon its own resources. What does all of this mean? Schools with a high population of minority students are less likely to place those who need help in special education services.
The study also showed Black families were more weary of medical and mental health research. They remember what happened with the Tuskegee experiment.
Ramey told the Huffington Post, “The bulk of my earlier research looked at how, for the same minor levels of misbehaviors — for example, classroom disruptions, talking back — white kids tend to get viewed as having ADHD, or having some sort of behavioral problem, while black kids are viewed as being unruly and unwilling to learn.”
Without a doubt, racial bias is one of the many factors contributing to the criminalization of many Black students. No longer can it be a one-size-fits-all mentality.
Source: Huffington Post
Dr. Sinclair Grey III is an activist, speaker, writer, author, life coach and radio/television talk show host (Tuesdays at 7pm). Contact him at www.sinclairgrey.org, [email protected] or on Twitter @drsinclairgrey