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Minority students are punished more than whites, US reports. Is it racism?

Black students are more than three times more likely to be suspended from school than white kids, a Department of Education report finds. Secretary Arne Duncan calls it a violation of civil rights.

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The disproportionately high rate at which black students are suspended from school represents a violation of a civil right inherent in the “American promise” of equal education, Education Secretary Arne Duncan said Tuesday.

Secretary Duncan was speaking after the Department of Education published a new report that found that black students, whether poor or wealthy, are more than three times more likely to receive out-of-school suspensions than white kids in US schools.

“The sad fact is that minority students across America face much harsher discipline than non-minorities, even within the same school," Secretary Duncan said ahead of the announcement of the report at Howard University in Washington.

But racism is not the only possible explanation for the contrast between the discipline meted out to black and white student, say some teacher and parent groups, who add that other factors could also lead to such a disparity.

The Civil Rights Data Collection – contains the reported suspension numbers from 72,000 schools, and no analysis. It looked at a number of potentially related factors, including teacher pay and course offerings at the schools.

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