Disparities remain in America's schools

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WASHINGTON -- Sixty years ago, the Supreme Court ruled that black children have the right to the same education as their white peers. But civil rights data that the Education Department released Friday reflect an education system rife with inequities for blacks and other minority students and those with disabilities.

Minority students are less likely to have access to advanced math and science classes and veteran teachers. Black students of any age are more likely to be suspended. And students with disabilities are more likely to be tied down or placed alone in a room as a form of discipline.

"It is clear that the United States has a great distance to go to meet our goal of providing opportunities for every student to succeed," said Education Secretary Arne Duncan.

The department offered no explanation for the disparities.

Here are five factors to know about the department findings:

Access to advanced classes: The department found there was a "significant lack of access" for many students to core classes such as algebra, geometry, biology and chemistry. That lack of access was particularly striking for minorities.

Experienced teachers: Min-ority students are more likely to attend schools with a higher concentration of first-year teachers than white students do.

While most teachers are certified, nearly half a million students nationally attend schools where nearly two-thirds or fewer of the teachers meet all state certification and licensing requirements. Black and Latino students are more likely to attend these schools.

Discipline: Overall, the data show that black students of all ages are suspended and expelled at a rate three times higher than white children.

Seclusion and restraint: The data show students with disabilities represent about 12 percent of the student population, but about 60 percent of those placed in seclusion or involuntary confinement and three quarters of those restrained.

While black students make up about one in five students with disabilities, more than one-third of those restrained are black.

Preschool: The Obama administration says 40 percent of districts do not offer preschool programs. President Barack Obama has sought a "preschool for all" program to provide universal preschool to 4-year-old that would use funding from a tobacco tax hike.


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