- - Sunday, August 4, 2019

Law professor Gail Heriot is right to point out that, due to different life experiences, different racial groups have different rates of misbehavior in school (“Threatening teachers’ ability to control their classrooms,” Web, July 30).

As a report from the Brookings Institution noted in 2017, “Black students are more likely to come from family backgrounds associated with school behavior problems” such as “single-parent families.”

As a result, black students are statistically more likely to violate school rules. A 2014 study in the Journal of Criminal Justice found that black students’ higher rate of “prior problem behavior” — not racism — explained why they were suspended at a higher rate.

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Ms. Heriot is right that curbing suspensions of black students who disrupt class or attack their classmates will harm other black students most. Much violence is black-on-black. After suspensions were curbed in New York City in the name of racial justice, “schools where more than 90% of students were minorities experienced the worst” effects on school safety, as researcher Max Eden observed.


Arlington, Va.

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