Tennessee Schools Zero Tolerance Policies and African Americans

compiled by Lewis Loflin

Zero tolerance policies in Tennessee again exposes 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. MNPS had the largest proportion of disabled zero tolerance offenders.

Approximately 24 percent of zero tolerance offenders in MNPS were classified as disabled, although MNPS' disabled population made up only 12 percent of the student population in 2007-08. Around 19 percent of Hamilton County's zero tolerance offenders were classified as disabled, although they comprised only 15 percent of the total student population.

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.

Ref. http://www.comptroller1.state.tn.us/Repository/RE/ZT2010Report.pdf

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...

...when state-level patterns of identification in specific categories are examined, students identified as Black are more than 3 times more likely than their White peers to be identified as intellectually disabled, and they are approximately 20% more likely to be identified as emotionally disturbed...students identified as Black or American Indian are more likely to be placed in the most restrictive settings.

Students identified as CLD and those identified as disabled consistently perform less well than their peers on statewide assessments, and are less likely to enroll in AP courses, be identified for gifted/talented programs, or graduate high school.

Students identified as Black and students with disabilities are also disproportionately subjected to disciplinary consequences, including suspension, expulsion, and placement in alternative schools.

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.

From 1970 to 2000 the proportion of White residents was nearly reduced by half. The urban decay that followed has had lasting implications for urban educational systems. Today, the city's schools remain highly segregated.

Tennessee's economy is the 18th largest in the nation, dominated by the technology and transportation industries. Traditionally, the state's per capita income has fallen below national and regional averages. As of 2005, it was $30,952, just 89% of the national average.

Median household income for people identified as Black was the lowest of any group in the state at $27,166, while White residents earned an average of $38,189.

Even at the same level of education, people identified as Black earn less than their White peers. The overall unemployment rate was 4.9%, but for Black males it was nearly 12%, and in Memphis, where the majority of the state's Black residents reside, it was nearly 6% overall. Additionally, nearly 45% of Black households were headed by females, compared to only 14% of White households...

Tennessee's poverty rate also exceeds the national average at 14.9%, with more than 21% of children classified as living in poverty. When examined by race, it is apparent that residents identified as Black or Hispanic are 2 to 2.5 times more likely to live in poverty that those identified as White.

What's more, the poverty rate in Shelby County, where Memphis is located, is more than 19%. Additionally, people identified as Black are nearly 30% less likely to own homes, which has important implications for the accumulation of wealth via equity and the passage of wealth from one generation to another.

Furthermore, Black males are substantially more likely to die from injury or violence...

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