Are high schools in Des Moines racist?

By Tom Quiner

Black students get suspended from high school disproportionately to white students in Des Moines, Iowa.
The Des Moines Register reported on this issue this morning:

“The Des Moines school district needs to reduce the disproportional number of African-American students who are suspended each year, Des Moines school board members and school officials said at the board’s meeting Tuesday.
“It’s not getting any better, and I don’t know if we need to do less of something or more of something else, [emphasis mine] but whatever those things are, it would be helpful to know,” board member Teree Caldwell-Johnson said. “We’re beyond the point of just talking about this stuff. We have to do something about it.”

Ms. Caldwell-Johnson, who is African-American, implies that either we need to decrease the number of black students getting suspended, or increase the number of white students getting kicked out.
Sounds kind of like a new strain of affirmative action, let’s call it ‘negative reaction.’
I sincerely am concerned about this issue, but the school board approaches the problem with a preconceived notion as to the root cause of the problem: racism. Why do you need to reduce the number of students being suspended if their actions merit suspension?
That is the real question.
Are black kids being picked on and getting kicked out of school for similar behavior to that of white kids who are NOT getting suspended? The Register’s article doesn’t probe this key question:

“Matt Smith, interim chief schools officer for the district, and Jamie Gilley, the district’s learning services coordinator, presented a report on non-academic student conditions to the board. The report showed reductions in referrals and suspensions for all ethnicities and subgroups. But the racial discrepancy remained.
African-American students constituted 17.6 percent of the district’s 2013-14 student population, but served 36.7 percent of out-of-schoolsuspensions. White students, who made up 44.7 percent of the student population, constituted 34.1 percent of the students who receivedout-of-school suspensions.”

The school board suggests we need school suspension policies based on quotas, not behavior.
Statistics on family structure reveal consistent and compelling data: kids raised in single parent homes get suspended from school more than kids raised in homes with two parents. Right or wrong, that’s the way it is. The second parent adds stability to children’s behavior.
Sadly, nearly 7 out of 10 black kids are raised in single-parent homes.
On the other hand, some 7 out of ten white kids are raised in intact families.
Don’t you think this kind of data should be considered, or at least reported on? But the Register’s reporting didn’t go there:

“To help address this disproportionality, the district hired Isaiah McGee as the district’s diversity and equity coordinator in March. School officials also plan to have district-wide cultural competence training in the fall and work with community organizations and neighborhood leaders.
The district hired a middle school and a high school director to help schools analyze behavior data and better address behavior. Behavior coaches also work with some middle school students referred to officials for their conduct, the report said.”

Maybe the district is doing the best they can, namely, to fill the void caused by the abdication of their families by black dads. Yes, I know that’s awfully politically incorrect to say, but the data confirms the point.
I wish the school board could be more forthright in framing the nature of the problem.
I’d give anything for local high schools to implement the phone message used by the Australian high school in the video above. Listen, laugh, and learn. The truth can be so funny, even when it hurts.


  1. oarubio on June 19, 2014 at 10:52 am

    Darn, does that mean the NBA must draft more Caucasian players even if they can’t perform as well?

    • quinersdiner on June 19, 2014 at 10:55 am

      No, it only goes one direction.

  2. Shawn Pavlik on June 19, 2014 at 11:31 am

    Poverty: I’ve heard it said and it bears repeating, “To stay out of poverty do 3 things: Finish high school, get a job, and wait until you are married to have children.”

    • quinersdiner on June 19, 2014 at 11:38 am

      Yes, I saw stats backing this up once. It really works.

  3. Paver martin on July 19, 2014 at 3:00 am

    Lol Iowans are a joke, the white Iowans should walk off a tall bridge to make America a good country. They will do a good deed for America.