By Sean Yoes, AFRO Baltimore Editor, firstname.lastname@example.org
The narrative of Black boys being punished more severely and more frequently than their White counterparts in public schools for the same offenses has become well known. But, a new report finds Black girls who attend Baltimore City public schools face a similar fate as Black boys when it comes to discipline for their behavior.
“…National data show that Black girls are the fastest growing demographic affected by school discipline, arrests, and referrals to the juvenile justice system,” according to the report, “Our Girls, Our Future: Investing in Opportunity and Reducing Reliance on the Criminal Justice System in Baltimore.” The report is published by the Thurgood Marshall Institute of the Legal Defense Fund of the NAACP.
A new report from the NAACP says girls in the Baltimore public school system are punished more frequently than their White counterparts. (Courtesy photo)
The findings of the report lay out the perils facing Black children who are part of a deeply segregated public school system, within a deeply segregated city.
“The School District is 81% Black…the stark racial isolation of Black students in BCPSS, while surrounding school districts offer greater racial and economic diversity. As a result of this isolation, the challenges correlated with poverty and racial segregation are concentrated in BCPSS schools,” according to the report.
“Despite the social, emotional, and educational needs of students in BCPSS schools, many of the girls and young women interviewed for this report indicated that their schools failed to provide reasonable conditions for learning, including heat and secure bathrooms.”
Those unacceptable conditions highlighted in the report were exemplified during a week in January when several schools were without heat when temperatures were freezing or near freezing outdoors.
“It affected my school a lot `cause we were still open and you had kids that was in the classroom with their jackets on,” an unidentified student in the report said. “And then at my school they’ll be like `oh you can’t wear outerwear, you can’t wear outerwear in school,’ so sometimes they’ll make you take `em off. So when it got really cold, it was like why the school not closed if y’all don’t have no heat?”
“I think it goes back to the subjective interpretation of Black girls being defiant, disrespectful, disruptive,” said Yasmene Mumby, a former middle school teacher and community organizer.
“Before you act on your interpretation of a Black girl and her being, you have to ask yourself: `Is this my bias at work? Am I about to act on it and impact a child and a scholar and a full being?” Mumby added. “I think that is the first start, because there is no criminalization of Black girls, there is no pattern of these experiences, without a teacher acting on their subjective interpretation of that child’s being and then starting the pathway to writing them up for disciplinary actions and then that snowballing.”