School Discipline Disparities and Education

Jason Riley is right to criticize civil-rights activists for insisting that racial differences in suspension rates must be the result of racism, rather than differences in behavior. As a Brookings Institution report noted in March, “black students are also more likely to come from family backgrounds associated with school behavior problems” such as “single-parent families.” Poverty, which disproportionately affects blacks, is also associated with higher rates of misconduct in school, as the National Center for Education Statistics noted in 2007.

A major 2014 study in the Journal of Criminal Justice by Professor John Paul Wright and others concluded that the racial gap in suspensions isn’t due to racism at all and is “completely accounted for by a measure of the prior problem behavior of the student.”

Letter to the editor originally published to The Wall Street Journal.