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Providence Superintendent Blames Racist Teachers For Disproportionate Suspension Rates For Students Of Color


For the last few months a group of activists in Worcester tried to get the superintendent fired because she allegedly wasn’t doing enough to lower the suspension rates of students of color, therefore she was a racist. Luckily the people of Worcester and the elected School Committee rejected these race-baiting activists and voted to give her a new contract anyway because they realized that it’s not racist to suspend kids when they violate school rules.

Providence is now having the same issue, except the superintendent there is catering to the mob and calling the teachers and principals who make up the Providence Public Schools “racist.”

ProvidenceThe outgoing superintendent of Providence Public Schools said racism was to blame for an imbalance in which students are being suspended from school when they misbehave. The comments by Superintendent Chris Maher came at the first joint meeting of the Providence School Board and Providence City Council Wednesday night. The school department presented recent out-of-school suspension data to the officials and discussed efforts to further decrease the number of suspensions.

The data, presented by Dr. Marco Andrade from the school department, showed 24.5% of male students suspended this year were black, while black males make up just 15.9% of the total student population. Similarly, 25.2% of female students suspended this year have been black, while only 16.5% of the total female population is black. Andrade said black, multiracial and Native American students are disproportionately suspended from school, while Asian, Southeast Asian, Pacific Islander, Hispanic and white students are not disproportionately suspended.

“I think it’s racism,” Maher said when asked by Councilman Luis Aponte about the reason behind the racial disparities. “I don’t know of another good reason we could give of why African American students are disproportionately suspended.”

Here’s a theory. African-American students are being suspended at slightly disproportionate rate to Asian, white, and Latino students because they violate school rules at a disproportionate rate. Generally teachers and principals see a kid break a rule, don’t care what color his skin is, and give him the punishment that the handbook says he earned.

Is there any evidence that this is not what is happening? Of course not. But it didn’t stop the superintendent from calling his teachers and principals racist in order to appease a mob, and attempt to be woke.

The fact of the matter is that the main reasons that some kids exhibit bad behavior in school are:

  1. Socioeconomics
  2. Home life

Kids who grow up in poverty have more hurdles to overcome, no one really debates that. And the fact of the matter is that African-Americans are disproportionately stuck in cycles of poverty. We can debate the reasons why that is, but that is that it’s a fact. And when you come from poverty you’re more likely to come to school hungry, less likely to come from a home where education is valued and college enrollment is assumed, and much more likely to bring emotional baggage with you to school that makes it harder for you to learn.

This isn’t racism, it’s a socioeconomic reality.

The school district has been working for years to decrease its out-of-school suspension rates in order to keep students in school and learning. The data presented Wednesday showed progress in that area, with a 45% decrease in suspensions from April 2015 to April 2019. A total of 1,791 students have been suspended out of school from the beginning of this school year through April.

“We have a lot of work to do in this area,” Maher acknowledged, saying progress has been made but describing it as “inadequate and incomplete.”

In particular, the school district is trying to decrease suspensions for minor infractions like insubordination and disorderly conduct. A 2016 statewide law, which Maher said the school district supported, called on out-of-school suspensions to be reserved for the worst behaviors, such as threats or behavior that substantially interferes with the ability of other students to learn.

The goal of schools should not be to keep kids in schools who break rules. The goal should be to create a healthy learning environment for those who want to learn, and that requires removing students whose behavior is a disruption. Insubordination to teachers and disorderly conduct includes refusing to leave class when asked to, swearing at teachers, and throwing desks across the room. Of course students should be suspended when they do that, regardless of skin color.

The City Council and School Board also received a presentation by a group of students in Young Voices, a nonprofit organization for urban youth. The students presented research compiled over nearly two years, entitled “Girls of Color Addressing Disparities in Providence Schools.” 

The report was compiled using data from the school department, the R.I. Department of Education, R.I. Kids Count and surveys with students conducted by Young Voices. The students said they found issues with discipline, favoritism, and a lack of cultural sensitivity from some teachers.

In particular, the group said they wanted a more “caring environment” at school, with teachers more compassionate to students issues like “poverty, transportation, violence and child care.” They pointed to surveys conducted by the state that showed, for example, only 25% of students at Classical High School felt their teachers were concerned when they walked into class upset. 

I’m really shocked to see an activist non-profit group brainwashing a bunch of teenagers into believing that they are somehow victims because their math teacher wants to teach math instead of being “concerned” about how upset a student is. I’m old enough to remember when it was a teacher’s job to teach and a student’s job to follow directions. Now apparently it’s a teacher’s job to read the faces of everyone who walks through their door and make sure they’re being “culturally sensitive” towards them.

“We are tired of being constantly asked to complete surveys with nothing being done,” said Adriana Rodriguez-Soto, a sophomore at Classical.

“I don’t feel like I’m listened to,” said Melanie Nunez, also a Classical sophomore.

You’re not supposed to be listened to. The teacher is supposed to be listened to and you do the listening.

The report quoted students who said they thought gender and race factored into their treatment from teachers. “I think discipline in my school is biased because some students get away with things while others don’t,” one student said.

Why are the PPD taking unconfirmed anecdotes from children on a survey and using them to craft school policy? Madness.

Asked after the meeting what she thought of Maher’s assessment that racism contributed to out-of-school suspensions, Nunez said she was “1,000% sure” it was true.

Nkolika Onye, the school department’s executive director of student supports, said there are trainings planned in “restorative practices,” which focus on helping students with the root of the negative behaviors and not just on discipline and rules broken. Maher also said staff members are receiving racial bias training.

Restorative practices is the new social justice buzzword for “we’re not suspending anyone anymore.” If a kid throws a desk teachers should pull them aside and find out the “root of the negative behavior.” In other words, principals will speak with disruptive kids about their feelings instead of holding them accountable for their actions.

This is why Worcester is a better city than Providence. It’s liberal, but at the end of the day we stand up to radicals like this and let them know that they don’t get to dictate policy in our schools.


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