A just-released study from the Department of Education indicates that minority students have less access to challenging high school curriculum, face tougher discipline and are more often taught by lower-paid and less experienced teachers.
The new data was developed from a national survey of more than 72-thousand schools serving 85-percent of the nation's students.
On the release of the study, Education Secretary Arne Duncan said, "The undeniable truth is that the everyday educational experience for many students of color violates the principle of equity at the heart of the American promise. It is our collective duty to change that."
Some key findings from the study are:
- African-American students are far more likely to be suspended or expelled from school than their peers (Black students make up 18% of the students in the schools sampled, but account for 35% of the students suspended once and 39% of the students expelled).
- Students for whom English is a second language make up a disproportionate share of those students held back (English Language Learners (ELL) account for 6% of the student population sampled by 12% of the students retained).
- Only 29% of high minority high schools in the sample offered calculus, compared to 55% of schools with the lowest Black and Hispanic enrollment.
In Seattle the picture isn't nearly as bleak. According to the DOE's Civil Rights Office, minority participation in advance placement classes is nearly proportionate to their percentage of the school population.
More disturbing are statistics that show that only 260 minority students were enrolled in calculus in the year covered by the survey and in those Seattle high schools with the largest percentage of minority students: Franklin, Ingraham, Rainier Beach and Sealth - only Rainier Beach and Franklin even offered a calculus class.
By comparison, Roosevelt High School, which has the highest percentage of White students, had 7 calculus classes in the survey year.
Representative Charles Gonzalez (D-TX) , chairman of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, said of the report, "In the interest of our economy and the future of all Americans, it is vital that Latino students have access to the educational courses they need. We must do all we can to close the achievement gap."
If you want to see results for Washington schools, click here.