Focus Policy Blog


Detailed Department of Education Report Shows Disparities Remain in Schools

The U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights released a recent report which highlights civil rights data in almost every state for the past 15 years.  The information is available through a searchable online database. The purpose of the report is to highlight the school districts that are making significant improvements in providing equal education for all and to show the areas where the greatest achievement gaps remain.  The report indicates that racial disparity in school discipline is a widespread problem from preschool through high school.  Although civil rights data on schools has been collected since 1968, the system was revamped under the Obama administration to include data on preschools and discipline methods.

Disparities remain in American schools. For example, minority boys and young men are disproportionately affected by discipline methods. To add, there has been and remains unequal access to preschool education.

Other key findings for the report are:

  • Preschool access remains unequal with only 60% of school districts offering preschool programs (most of which are only half-day)
  • Only 18% of preschool students are black, but 42% of them are suspended once and 48% are suspended more than once
  • Black, Latino, and English language learner students are offered access to a full range of Math and Science courses at a disproportionately lower rate than white and Asian students

The goal is for the report’s generated information to inform policy and regulatory changes to address some of the most prevalent problems.

Patrice Garnette, Joint Center Graduate Scholar, The George Washington University Law School