This New Online Tool Can Identify Racial Disparities At Your Old High School

A striking new online searchable-database tool from by the U.S. Department of Education's Office of Civil Rights reveals minority students are suspended more often, and aren't well represented in gifted and talented programs in schools across America. The database contains information from around 97,000 public schools, spanning 16,500 school districts with 49 million students, for the 2011-2012 school year.

Made available to the public for the first time, the database allows anyone to look up any school in the U.S. by entering in information like the school name and city name. Then, you can see academic and disciplinary differences among students based on English language skills, disabilities, sex and race.

Four papers were released by the U.S. Department of Education with the data, broken down by inequality in college readiness, school discipline, early learning and teacher equity.

Some of the findings include:

  • Black and Native American students are suspended and expelled much more frequently than white students.
  • Black, Native American and Latino students often don't have access to advanced science and math classes, and are more likely to be taught by first-year or non-certified instructors than white students.
  • Black students only made up 18 percent of all pre-K classes, yet 48 percent received several school suspensions.
  • Black students were suspended three times as often as white students, and black and Latino students only accounted for 26 percent of students enrolled in gifted and talented programs in schools that offered such programs.
  • Almost one out of every four disabled boys of color — except for Asian American and Latino students — and one out of every five disabled girls of color were suspended.

What's also startling is that corporal punishment, such as paddling and spanking, is still being used at some schools, such as Springtown Independent School District in Texas. This is despite the fact that it's outlawed in many states.

The data shows black, Latino and Native American students aren't misbehaving more often that white students, but are obviously disciplined at higher rates than white students. Data also shows that black students in pre-K programs, who are at least four years old, are already being treated differently at school, which means the problem isn't just limited to older students.

The problem may also come down to school funding, something school administrators may need to take an even closer look at with racial disparities in mind. Kansas Kickapoo Tribe Chairman Steve Cadue said he was alarmed by the data, and noted it may be useful for financial discussions.

“I will be requesting a meeting with [Kansas] Governor [Sam] Brownback," Cadue told The Topeka Capital Journal, "to pay particular attention to the DOE report as he seeks solutions to the recent Kansas Supreme Court decision regarding financial disparities and how inequality negatively impacts on the educational progress of our Native American people."