School is supposed to be a safe haven for children.
My student Kevin and his friends normally play their video games on the bus and during the morning program. They would stay on until the very last-minute, rush to breakfast and then to home room.
However on this particular morning, my students became statistics showing how stereotypes of Black boys influence discipline policies and procedures.
Regardless of good grades, behavior or attendance, Black boys still fit the description.
When I called the roll for home room, I noticed that Kevin was not present. This was unusual because Kevin never missed class or school without some notification from his parents.
Before I could contact his parents, I received a message from the ISS Coordinator. “Please send assignments for the following students who are in ISS.” Kevin’s name was at the top of the list!
For many parents raising Black boys, it’s your worst nightmare hearing or reading the words, I regret to inform you that your son has been issued in school or out of school suspension.
Especially when they make good grades, don’t have a discipline record and avoid the “typical signs” of an unruly student.
There’s a bigger picture here; school discipline models still need to be reformed.
Discipline programs and initiatives are built around the stereotypes of Black boys. This is why there are still too many Black boys being suspended or placed in alternative schools.
Even as teachers, we don’t always see how Black boys “fitting the description” could land them out of school. The reason that Kevin and his friends were issued ISS was because of mistaken identity. Too often innocent Black males have been shot, killed, arrested or accused of wrongdoing because of mistaken identity or fitting the description.
I would recommend that we remove the stereotypes and biases of Black boys first before we can truly commit to supporting them in schools.
Jason has worked in education for over 15 years as a teacher, blogger and community advocate. He speaks and writes primarily about the need to improve education for Black boys, particularly increasing the number of Black male educators in schools. In addition to blogging here at EdLanta, Jason is also a featured writer at Education Post.