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A new study released today that found that nearly one in every six black students in the country’s public schools are suspended from school during the school year.

That rate stays true for North Carolina, where 16.3 percent of black students (just under one in six) were suspended in the 2009-2010 school year, according to the analysis of federal education data by the Civil Rights Project/Proyecto Deroches Civiles at University of California-Los Angeles.

The report, “Opportunities suspended: the disparate impact of disciplinary exclusion from school,” used data from school districts around the country, including North Carolina data that reflected more than 90 percent of all students in the state.

Also highly concerning in North Carolina was the 18 percent rate of suspend Native American students in the state.

(Chart made from the UCLA data)

 

North Carolina recently reported a four-year graduation rate that topped 80 percent, the first for the state and hailed as a success by education leaders. But black and American Indian students lagged behind that with 73.7 percent and 74.5 percent graduation rates, respectively.

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The accessibility to a sound, equitable, and adequate education for each North Carolina resident is paramount to future success within our growing economy. Many programs within this multifaceted system guarantee our future generation a strong, educational foundation; notably dropout prevention grants. However, the recent elimination of these grants by the NC General Assembly (a mere 0.0012% of the total education appropriations, or $13.3 mil.) threatens the ability of many at-risk adolescents to complete their education, further hindering their role in North Carolina’s workforce.

According to the state Department of Public Instruction, North Carolina has recently seen a record low in dropout rates. This, in large part, is due to the success of programs funded through dropout prevention grants allocated by the state. These programs provide at-risk students with additional aid to possess core academic skills, assist students in passing employer exams, set long term goals for decreasing dropout rates while increasing college readiness, and enable students to complete technical/academic programs in high demand fields with adequate wages.

Without the continuation of these existing programs, at-risk students will fall farther behind, moreover punctuating our polarized and inequitable society. As Horace Mann once stated, “Education, then, beyond all other devices of human origin, is the great equalizer of the conditions of men, the balance-wheel of the social machinery.” During a time of deep economic recession, threatening the education of our children neither aids our economy nor creates more equitable economic opportunity.