These subpages discuss data showing that when discipline rates were reduced in the referenced jurisdictions, relative racial/ethnic differences in discipline rates increased. Recent treatments of this subject may be found in my “Innumeracy at the Department of Education and the Congressional Committees Overseeing It,” Federalist Society Blog (Aug. 24, 2017), and “Measuring Discipline Disparities, a written statements prepared for U.S. Commission on Civil Rights Briefing “The School to Prison Pipeline: The Intersection of Students of Color with Disabilities” (Dec. 8, 2017). See also my July 17, 2017 letter to the United States Departments of Education, Justice, and Health and Human Services, explaining to those agencies that, contrary to what the agencies had been leading the public and school administrator to believe by means of “Dear Colleague” letters and other actions, relaxing standards and otherwise generally reducing discipline rates tends to increase, not reduce, (a) relative differences in discipline rates and the (b) the proportions blacks make up of disciplined students. The letter also advised the agencies of an obligation to explain to the public and school administrators that prior guidance regarding the effects of that generally reducing discipline rates on measures of racial disparity.
In October 2017, the Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty issued a study titled “Feds in the Classroom: The Impact of the Obama Administration’s Discipline Policy on Wisconsin Public Schools.” The study found (at 9) that during a period of general declines discipline rates between the 2007-08 and 2015-16 school years, the black suspension rate fell by 51.0% while the Hispanic and white rates fell by 60.5% and 67.9%. These figures mean that the relative differences between black and white rates, black and Hispanic rates, and Hispanic and white rates all increased.
The study did find that for Wisconsin as a whole the Hispanic and black rates fell proportionately more than the white rate. But study found that that larger statewide reduction for blacks was likely a function of the large declines in Milwaukee where blacks make up an especially high proportion of students. Possibly that explains as well the fact that the Hispanic decline was proportionately more than the white decline.
Pressures to reduce discipline rates (based on the mistaken belief that generally doing so will tend to reduce relative differences in discipline rates) are likely to be especially great in areas with comparatively large black representations among students. Thus, it is possible that some states will be observing larger proportionate reductions in black than white discipline rates (with corresponding reductions in relative differences) even though whites experience larger proportionate reductions in discipline rates in each district. So far, however, most reportage regarding general reduction in discipline rates have found increasing relative racial differences in discipline rates (as reflected in the first introductory paragraph).
Meanwhile in January 2018, it was reported that Milwaukee Public Schools entered into an agreement with the Department of Education aimed at reducing racial disparities. Typically such agreements will be based on the mistaken belief that generally reducing discipline rates will tend to reduce that above mentioned (a) and (b).