Is The Data Going to Make a Difference?

When the Civil Rights Data Collection (CRDC) released its newest data since the Biden administration has been in office, it represented the newest information about inequities and disparities since the dawn of the coronavirus pandemic.

While the information is good to have, it isn’t telling us anything any different than what we already know. That is, Black children are disproportionately underrepresented in areas of academic achievement and are disproportionately overrepresented in areas of student disciplines. I could run through the numbers, but again it’s nothing different than we already knew. There are no new revelations from this data; it looks eerily reminiscent of data points from previous years.

For some individuals, educators, and policymakers, this new information provides insight of some sort as to the issues that are facing our schools, and in particular Black students. For researchers, the data provides new data points to help establish the empirical research necessary to help drive changes on behalf of those in need of those changes most; again, Black students.

But for the people on the ground who live and breathe this data, individuals who seek to create change on behalf of Black children and their communities, the question must be asked; what does this data mean and is it going to make any difference?

As a researcher myself, this data is great on its face because the data can be used to ask questions in the hopes of exposing the instances and normalcies of racism faced by Black and Brown students. But because I am an educator, I am compelled to ask different questions.

As an educator, CRDC data requires that I ask not only about what the data is telling us but also what we [educators] intend to do to change the reality the data says about the Black student educational experience. This data tells me nothing different than it has in years past, yet what it does say is that we [educators] have yet to adequately do anything to trend schools in the right direction.

Let me be clear, I think data collection is necessary, especially data that announces racism wherever it lives because the data serves as a point of embarrassment for school districts. It’s an embarrassment that a school year after year disproportionately suspends, expels, and arrests Black children. It’s an embarrassment to a community that educators on the faculty, professional staff, administration, and governance levels have yet to figure out how not to be anti-Black.

Is it because those educators are without the wherewithal or the will to no longer perpetuate racism in its policies, postures, procedures, and practices? Is it indifference or a belief in Black inferiority?

The 2013-2014 data shows that Black preschool children were being suspended disproportionately. The same is true for the most recent numbers. So, in roughly 10 years, we’ve yet to properly address the fact that Black children are being disproportionately suspended in preschool. What the hell is wrong with us?

You can exercise to get healthy but if you fail to eat healthy, get the proper amount of sleep, take vitamins and supplements, and drink water in place of sweet drinks, you won’t achieve the maximum level of health your body can reach. You can enroll in a course, take notes during lectures, and even record the lectures, but if you don’t study and read the assigned content, you won’t achieve your fullest potential as a learner.

Likewise, you can’t make school systems antiracist by simply throwing money and programming at them—even when supported by data such as this.

Changing this data for the better of Black students requires a fundamental shift in the thinking of educators; most of whom are white and who hold deficit opinions of Black children… viewing Black children as more dangerous, failing to motivate Black children, and viewing Black children with less vigor.

Until we as a society and educational community change the way we think about Black children, Black families, and Black people, these statistics will never change and will continue to tell us about who we are as a society. We’ll continue to huddle around Excel spreadsheets only to lament what we already know to be true; that the collective “we” hate Black children, because the collective “we” refuse to change who we are and what we believe.

When will we begin to change who we are, rather than trying to change Black children? Black children aren’t the problem? Who and what we believe them to be is.


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