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BOE Reaction to ACLU Report

Posted by whforums on December 1, 2008

I posted last week about an ACLU report that showed that “minority” students were significantly more likely to be arrested in West Hartford schools than white students.  Real Hartford also has a great post on the topic here. While this story has certainly been a mainstream story (in the Courant, on the TV news, even in the West Hartford News), I’ve been surprised at how little reaction there’s been within the blogosphere (not just in comments, but in general traffic/interest), maybe because, to me, it seems like a pretty significant story.

In any case, the West Hartford News has an interesting piece about the BOE reaction to the report, which can best be described as politic.  The BOE essentially said the following — we take it seriously, if there’s a problem, which there isn’t.  They called into question the data collection methods of the ACLU, the lack of presence of West Hartford officials in the study, and a declining number of arrests since the implementation of the SRO program.

All of which sort of brings me back to square one.  The problem, folks, isn’t with the SROs, but is instead the institutional discrimination (likely not conscious) which calcifies the processes of almost any large scale organization.  This isn’t about some “boss” making decisions, it’s about the unexamined prejudices of the many, slowly rolling together into silent discrimination against the disempowered.

The argument, then, as of December 1st, 2008, looks like this:

The ACLU says:  The numbers demonstrate that children of different races and ethnicities are treated differently. (Implicit:  Institutional racism.  Look in the mirror).

WHPS says:  Oh, that’s a problem if it’s true.  Good thing we know it’s not true.  (We will not look in the mirror, but thanks).

4 Responses to “BOE Reaction to ACLU Report”

  1. reader said

    You said it would be weekend reading. Was it? If so, you would see that the actual report does not correspond to the Courant’s story. In fact, it says that in West Hartford, the difference in arrest rates for whites and minorities for the same crime was “not statistically significant”. I for one do not want our law enforcement officers to decide whether to arrest or to not arrest someone who commits a crime influenced by race at all. When people break the law, they are held accountable. Not school rules mind you, but the laws of the land. I for one am happy to know that they are doing all they can to keep my children who are in school safe.

  2. whforums said

    I have a much longer post in the pipeline in which I’m trying to pull out all West Hartford data from the report. That’s obviously a longer term project. However, nowhere, in my reading, did I see the statement that “arrest rates for whites and minorities for the same crime was ‘not statistically significant'” in West Hartford. In fact, just to make sure, I did a quick search of the document, and found that the phrase “significantly significant” isn’t even in it. There is one paragraph where the authors say that such a reading seems possible (on page 42), but they follow it in the next paragraph with the following (page 43):

    In West Hartford, again, the arrest rate was much higher among African American students (4 arrests among 14 offenses, or about 27 percent) and Hispanic students (5 arrests among 16 offenses, or about 31 percent) than among white students (8 arrests among 82 offenses, or about 10 percent).

    If that seems too oblique or selective, there’s also this from page 41:

    Taken together, incidents in which a student used physical force against another person — in the parlance of ED 166, this broad category includes ‘fighting/altercation/physical aggression/physical altercation’ and ‘battery assault’ — produced far more school-based arrests than any other type of incident.

    The authors go on to discuss East Hartford and Hartford before saying:

    But the same cannot be said for West Hartford. There, both Hispanic and African American students involved in incidents of this type were more likely to be arrested than white students committing the same offense. In fact, the rate at which African American students committing such offenses were arrested (32 arrests among 140 offenses, or an arrest rate of about 23 percent) was more than double the comparable rate for white students (18 arrests among 160 offenses, or an arrest rate of about 11 percent.

    The report itself admits that it’s sort of singling out West Hartford (and Hartford and East Hartford) as examples of a national problem. And its real argument is that the more we arrest students from school, the more we’re preparing them for a life of being arrested. And it also has a lot of good things to say about West Hartford, too. And in a few days, I’ll get into all that.

    But, according to my reading (and, as always, I’m open to the idea that I’ve missed something), the paper most certainly does not reach the general conclusion that arrest rates for whites and minorities in West Hartford for the same crime are equivalent.

  3. Robert said

    As you work on the “longer term project,” it might be helpful to think in terms of “de facto” discrimination. Once upon a time, evidence of “de facto” discrimination suggested we should all be concerned about the underlying conditions that create race-based patterns in law enforcement, bank loan programs, health care availability, etc. Today, however, if a pattern can be labeled as an unintended consequence of actions by well-meaning folks, we don’t seem to worry too much about underlying conditions. If Hispanic/Latino and African American students are disproportionately accused of committing offenses in the schools, we need to know why that it is.

  4. annelldut said

    I just read that Schulte/Proskauer and Dewey are all laying off associates: http://www.jdjournal.com/category/layoffs/

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