Monroe, C. R. (2005). Why are “bad boys” always black?: Causes of disproportionality in school discipline and recommendations for change. The Clearing House: A Journal of Educational Strategies, Issues and Ideas, 79(1), 45-50.
The present overrepresentation of African American males in the U.S. justice system, combined with racial disproportionality on measures of school discipline, provide compelling reasons for continued scrutiny of connections between the two areas. Although previous studies have revealed powerful insights about the salience of culture, particularly race, in schools and society, few scholars have explored how culturally-based constructs relate to school discipline. In this article, the author expands on current research by examining factors that contribute to the discipline gap, or the overrepresentation of black, male, and low-income students on indices of school discipline. Whereas researchers commonly agree that cultural mismatches create conditions for systematic school failure, less is known about how societal forces may inform teachers’ perceptions of African American student behaviors. There is a particular need to understand how and why teachers’ views of these students, particularly males, mediate with their disciplinary actions in the classroom. Specifically, the relationship between the social image of African American men and boys and the teachers’ notion of effective disciplinary strategies based on student race and gender; and the influences wielded by the prevailing social norms and practices on the shape of disciplinary problems in schools. The article concludes with recommendations for how educators and policymakers should approach disciplinary concerns for middle-school learners. (Contains 1 note.)
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