OKC Schools May Have Reduced Suspensions, But It’s Still Mostly Black Kids Getting Sent Home

The Wall Street Journal has an article today about the Oklahoma City School District. Back in 2015, under pressure from the Obama administration, they decided that school suspensions were out of control and were unfairly targeted toward black kids:

In Oklahoma City, the school district opted to make changes in 2015 after a broad investigation by the Education Department’s Office for Civil Rights found stark disparities in the way black and white students were being treated: more than a third of black students here were suspended at least once, according to federal civil-rights data, compared with 15% of white students.

“I always say this complaint was a blessing because, until the complaint came about, you didn’t have district administrators saying, ‘We’ve got an issue with suspending black students or Hispanic students,’” said Chuck Tompkins, the head of a new “school climate” office charged with carrying out the changes. “This forced us.”

Suspensions are down in Oklahoma City schools, and maybe that’s a good thing. I don’t have an informed opinion about it. However, by applying careful and rigorous analysis to the data provided by the school district, I can say this:

  • In 2012-13, black students were suspended at a rate 144 percent higher than white students.
  • In 2016-17, black students were suspended at a rate 133 percent higher than white students.

If the goal was to rein in the disparate treatment of black kids, OKC’s new policy isn’t accomplishing anything. Not yet, anyway. How is it possible to report on this and not even mention something like that?


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