Sadly (but not surprisingly) there is a disproportionate number of students of color, particularly African American students, who are suspended in our schools: 259 African American students compared to 68 white students. Berkeley Patch published the article "State Releases New Numbers on Suspensions in Berkeley Schools," including a helpful interactive graphic showing out-of-school suspensions by both race and offense.
I feel sick to my stomach when I hear people make comments like, "Well, it's 'those kids' who are causing the problems." I refuse to accept that. Students of color continue to be victims of inequity in our schools- in Berkeley and across the country. I'm not pointing fingers and placing blame. I'm holding up a mirror and admitting that I am part of the problem. We need to provide all of our students with an opportunity to thrive- socially, emotionally, academically- in our schools. Right now, that's not the case and it's a huge problem- for our entire community.
What messages (subtle and direct) are we sending to students of color that they're the "bad kids?" Do they feel like they can reach their full potential in our schools?
There's currently a lot of work being done in our district to address the disproportionate rate of suspensions of students of color- The Broth-A-Hood program at Longfellow, the working group to accelerate the achievement of African American Students and equity teams throughout the schools who are trained by Pamela Harrison-Small, the ED of Berkeley Alliance (to name a few). We must continue to work together to keep this momentum going- not stopping until ALL students have the chance to excel in our schools.