Events, News & Updates

The Current Civil Rights Challenge in Our Nation’s Schools

March 21, 2014: Today, the United States Department of Education Office of Civil Rights released its civil rights data analysis from the 2011-2012 school year. This is the first comprehensive look at civil rights data from every public school in the nation in nearly 15 years. The data set, which includes reporting from all of the nation’s 97,000 school districts, shows that tremendous disparities still exist for children of color in many areas – early learning opportunitiesschool suspensions, expulsions, and referrals to law enforcementequity in teacher experience and salaries in high-minority schools; and equitable access to rigorous coursework that prepares them for college. These gaps start in the earliest years and persist through high school. Unless we act expeditiously, we will face many more boys of color who fall by the wayside educationally.

These gaps have been with us for decades, and despite so much effort to promote reforms such as national standards, these racial inequities continue to exist and sometimes widen. They will not fix themselves. It requires focused and deliberate attention to the population of students of color, acknowledgement of the role that bias plays (whether conscious or unconscious), and a commitment to make changes to policy and practice.


  • In schools with the highest black and Latino student enrollments, 13 percent of the teaching staff in their first or second year of teaching, compared to 8 percent in schools with the lowest black and Latino student enrollments.
  • On average, teachers in high schools serving the most black and Latino students are paid on average $1,913 less per year than their colleagues in other schools in the same district who serve the fewest black and Latino students.
  • Seven percent of black students attend schools in which 20 percent or more teachers are not yet certified, compared to less than two percent of white students.


  • Native-Hawaiian, Pacific Islander, American Indian and Native-Alaskan students were held back a year in kindergarten at nearly twice the rate of white kindergarten students.
  • Black children are 18 percent of the preschool child population, but 60 percent of the children suspended from preschool more than once are black.
  • In ninth grade, black students are retained in grade at three times the rate of whites. Hispanic and American Indian and Native-Alaskan students are retained in grade at twice the rate of whites.
  • Black students are suspended and expelled at a rate three times greater than white students.
  • While black students represent 16% of student enrollment, they represent 27% of students referred to law enforcement and 31% of students subjected to a school-related arrest.


  • In schools offering gifted and talented programs, black and Hispanic students represent 40 percent of the enrollment but only 23 percent of the students enrolled in gifted and talented programs.
  • One-fourth of high schools with the highest black and Latino enrollment don’t offer Algebra II; a third of these schools don’t offer chemistry.
  • Less than half of Native-American high school students have access to the full range of math and science courses in their high school.
  • English language learners (ELL) represent 5 percent of all public high school students but only 2 percent of those taking either the SAT or ACT.
  • Black and Latino students represent 37 percent of high school enrollment, but 26 percent of students taking advanced placement courses, 26 percent of students taking AP exams, and 19 percent of students receiving a qualifying score of 3 or above on AP exams.

Within our COSEBOC network, there are member schools and districts that are making significant strides to respond to these disparities. By learning from their exemplary approaches and trying new ideas, the gaps in quality education for students of color can be closed. COSEBOC’s professional development services can help schools and districts to identify their areas of strength and growth, and plan for incremental changes to policy and practice that are sustainable.

COSEBOC’s upcoming Gathering of Leaders in Jackson, Mississippi on April 23-25, 2014, and the White House Town Hall on Educational Excellence for African Americans on the following day in Jackson are important opportunities for educators and policy-makers to immerse themselves in what works in educating boys and young men of color. More information at:

For more information and access to the data, go to the Office of Civil Rights Civil Rights Data Collection website.