Zero Tolerance Policies and Blacks in Tennessee Schools
compiled by Lewis Loflin
Zero tolerance policies in Tennessee again expose where the problems are concentrated: among racial minorities and "special education" students that, no surprise, are over represented with minorities. The Kingsport Times-News editorial from 2003 did a good job at reporting the facts and rejected political correctness. While it's true only 1 percent commit "zero tolerance" offences, even that small percent in combination with other problems can create total chaos.
Here I'll add additional material and update for 2010.
Summery: The problem like every other state is non-Asian minorities in particular blacks (African Americans). At 17% of the population they make up almost 50% of those in prison and 40% of those committing zero tolerance offences. This stems not from racism, but self-inflicted behavior. From 1999 to 2010 the levels have remained the same or have grown worse.
In a 2010 updated report nothing has changed except one factor: the huge growth in Hispanics that wasn't even mentioned in 2003. Before anyone starts yelling racism there is good news. Unlike black that are over represented based on their percent in the population, Hispanics score well with whites in being under-represented. But what is bazaar is the number of "disabled" students that commit "zero tolerance" offences. (What exactly do they mean by 'disabled'?) To quote,
There was a disproportionate number of zero tolerance offenders among the disabled student population, which encompasses both special education students and students with physical disabilities. This was true for the state as a whole, Hamilton County Schools, MNPS, and Shelby County Schools.
Did they mean disabled as in being in a wheel chair or mentally slow or retarded? These students only made up 20% or so of offenders.
Here is a quote that's no surprise from something called The National Center for Culturally Responsive Educational Systems:
More than 15% of Tennessee students are identified as disabled. At the state-level, students identified as Black are only slightly more likely than their White counterparts to receive special education services...
Again they are trying to play the race card instead of being realistic. They are not asking if the classifications are true and it seems they are, but want to make things more racially level. Black students with disabilities do score lower and drop out more because that is the normal outcome. They go on to whine about urban area funding and how more funding will fix the problem. No it won't and that hasn't been proven anywhere.
Again they blame this on race and poverty when in fact the majority of poor kids in Tennessee are white and black poverty is often self-inflicted. Let's further quote this group:
The 1970s was a time of bussing, such as the court-ordered desegregation Plan Z in Memphis City Schools, and "white flight" in which the White residents of urban areas, particularly Memphis, increasingly moved out of the city and into suburbs, in addition to placing their children in private schools.
First of all who wants to send their children to schools blacks often reduce to war zones? Anytime the police step in to deal with the massive crime and lawlessness of black communities, the left yells racism and profiling. That chaos is the natural result of groups such as blacks that make stupid choices. Nearly 47% of the prison population compared to 17% of the total state population in Tennessee is black.
Now I'll say what they don't. That lower family income, crime, failure, etc. is due to stupid black women and useless black fathers that produce that 45% of black households headed by single black women. In addition, those black males "substantially more likely to die from injury or violence" are at the hands of other black males. Who wants their children in the middle of this?
This leads us right back to where the problem with "zero tolerance" and who is behind much of the problem. It's not white racism, but the chosen behavior of black people. White residents earn more because they often have two or more incomes, something those 45% of black female headed households don't have. As for the statement, "Even at the same level of education, people identified as Black earn less than their White peers" they presented no proof of that claim I could find.
Their report can be read at http://nccrest.org/Profiles/TennesseeProfile-Sept25.pdf. As of March 2013 the document has been removed.
Report provides clues about curbing school violence, drug use
Kingsport Times-News September 13, 2003
If Tennessee's zero tolerance law was supposed to reduce violence and drug activity in the state's schools, it's been a dismal failure.
In just three years, the number of times Tennessee students attacked their teachers, brought weapons to school or took drugs has increased 10.8 percent.
Since the 1999-2000 school year, zero-tolerance offenses grew from 3,651 incidents to 4,047 last year. Worse, the nearly 11 percent spike in offenses has occurred while the total school population has barely budged - up 0.68 percent over the same period.
These disturbing figures come from a report issued by the comptroller's Office of Education Accountability.
"Though zero tolerance policies begin with the good intention of creating safer schools," the report notes, "it is not always clear that the results have been successful." The study also observes that zero tolerance policies "may be falling out of favor among some educators and education researchers."
With increases like these, it's little wonder the educational community is having second thoughts. With documented instances of violence and drug use increasing ten times faster than the school population, parents are bound to demand some action, and who could blame them?
State education officials attribute at least part of the increase in zero tolerance incidents to better reporting. While that's probably true, it doesn't really get us any closer to addressing the violence and drug use the report documents.
At the risk of a little politically incorrect profiling, the focus for reducing violence and drug use among Tennessee school students would seem reasonably clear.
The report shows, for example, that less than 1 percent of all students attending Tennessee schools actually committed zero tolerance offenses during the three years examined. That means that most of the problems in state schools - as in life generally - come from a small minority of the population.
It follows that if school officials want to reduce violence and drug use, they should closely monitor these already identified zero tolerance offenders. Who are the major offenders? For starters, school officials need to concentrate their efforts on boys rather than girls. The report indicates nearly three-quarters of zero-tolerance offenders are male.
The report also found that special education students and black students are violating zero tolerance policies at a rate much higher than their actual representation in the school population would otherwise suggest.
For example, although black students are 24 percent of student enrollment statewide, 37 percent of all zero tolerance violators last year were black.
Similarly, special education students committed nearly 25 percent of all zero tolerance offenses, but actually represent only about 16 percent of the total student population. White students, by contrast, make up 72 percent of student enrollment statewide but account for 60 percent of all zero tolerance offenses.
The report also finds that students in the 9th grade are three times more likely to commit a zero tolerance offense than students in other grades. And, finally, students in the state's largest urban areas are far more likely to commit zero tolerance offenses than rural students.
Taken together, these statistics point to the need for some counseling and other appropriate intervention, such as drug counseling targeted to those groups which have shown themselves to be the overwhelming source of zero tolerance offenses.
While all students need to hear and absorb educational information about violence and drug use, it's clear from these statistics that 4th grade girls in rural schools should not be a priority.
While schools continue to be safer, statistically, than the homes students come from, violence in our schools is a serious problem. National statistics indicate approximately 20 percent of high school students regularly carry some sort of weapon on a regular basis.
Across the nation, approximately 900 teachers are threatened with bodily harm and nearly 40 teachers are physically attacked during an average school day.
On that same, average day, 2,000 students report being physically assaulted. We all want safe schools. This report - disturbing as it is - gives education officials some vital help in accomplishing that worthy goal.
Copyright 2003 Kingsport Times-News.
Highlights from 2003 report:
Although zero tolerance policies were implemented to deter students from committing specific offenses, zero tolerance offenses have increased at a significantly faster rate than student enrollment. Statewide zero tolerance offenses increased from 3,651 in 1999-2000 to 4,047 in 2001-02, an increase of 10.85 percent over the three-year period. In comparison, the number of students in Tennessee public schools during that same time rose only 0.68 percent from 894,397 in the 1999-2000 school year to 900,510 in the 2001-02 school year.The above is from http://www.comptroller1.state.tn.us/repository/RE/zerotoler2003.pdf Note the link is dead as of March 2013.
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