By Michael Gaffney
Math is hard. Statistics even harder. The truth is apparently the hardest.
We’ve spent the last few days watching, listening, and reading about School Committee Member Dante Comparetto, Telegram Columnist Clive McFarlane, Councilor Sarai Rivera and her husband Jose Encarnacion, attack the school superintendent, Maureen Binienda, our teachers, and the City of Worcester.
They slandered and libeled Worcester as a racist haven, full of KKK members claiming that the school system was unfairly disciplining Hispanic students. When pressed for proof, they refused to respond, instead they doubled down on the accusations and sought to have Binienda fired.
It was all politically motivated to increase racial division as we have an election this fall.
The truth is, the data doesn’t support the claims of an “overwhelming majority” of Hispanic students being disproportionately disciplined:
As reported by Walter Bird at Worcester Magazine yesterday:
“The number of in-house suspensions as of the end of February plummeted 40.9 percent from 2017-18 to 2018-19, from 800 to 473. Among Hispanics, the incidents dropped 39.5 percent, from 435 to 263, through February from 2017-18 to 2018-19.
Total out-of-school suspensions, according to the data provided by Binienda, fell 39.5 percent in the same time-frame, from 1,428 to 864. For Hispanics, the rate fell to 44.9 percent, from 820 to 452.
Long-term suspensions, meanwhile, fell from 96 to 78, or 18.8 percent. For Latinos, they fell from 59 to 35, or 40.7 percent.”
The data shows a significant downward trend in suspension rates for the Hispanic student population. In-house suspensions dropped from 800 to 473, yet our politicians seek to divide us along racial lines.
According to enrollment data from DESE Hispanic students represent 42.8% of the high school enrollment and 42.9% of the total enrollment. First column of numbers is total enrollment by grade. Fourth column of numbers is Hispanic enrollment:
Hispanics are 55.6% of in house suspensions, 52.3% of out of school suspensions, and 44.8% of long term suspensions. If you are an educator, you know that many of the in house/out of school suspensions are repeat offenders, meaning that the same students find themselves in multiple categories, thus inflating the numbers across all three categories. A kid who has never been in trouble before is probably not getting a long-term suspension.
The sample size is far too small and over too short of a period of time to make broad generalizations. In other words, the data could easily be reflective of just a few students. All of this overreaction could be because there are a half dozen kids that have some teenage issues. Regardless, it certainly doesn’t support the accusations leveled.
At most, the data shows that the data is trending positively as the rates are dropping.
Any rational person knows that the suspension numbers are not an “overwhelming majority”, nor is it a basis to trash Worcester, its teachers, and school system.
Worcester has great students, teachers, parents, and people. It also has a couple bad ones. Let’s not let the politicians divide us and cause us to hate one another because they failed to do their homework.