Locked Out of the Classroom: How Implicit Bias Contributes to Disparities in School Discipline

While racial segregation in schools has been unconstitutional for over fifty years, Black students continue to face discrimination in the form of excessive school discipline. Like the legally sanctioned racism their grandparents endured, Black students today are subject to discriminatory behavior by the individuals they should trust most at school – teachers and principals. Compounding matters, in many cases, teachers and administrators may not know they are disproportionately targeting students of color for discipline. Rather, their behavior may be based on more subtle, subconscious beliefs, commonly referred to as implicit bias. Though subtle, these beliefs, and the racial stereotyping that results from them, can create a lifetime of serious, negative consequences for racially stigmatized students, ultimately causing them to distrust their teachers and to disengage in the classroom.