Two of Iowa’s black elected officials are calling for a study to learn more about a recent report showing Iowa with the most disproportionate number of black students being suspended from school. State representatives Ako Abdul-Samad and Wayne Ford spoke at a news conference in Des Moines today and addressed data compiled by the Iowa Department of Education.
The report shows that blacks make up five percent of school enrollment in the state, but they are involved in 22 percent of the suspensions. Abdul-Samad says it’s time for black leaders in Iowa to find out why.
"We need to have a unified front now," Abdul-Samad said, "if we don’t have a unified front, then we’ll always be talking about our children going to the penitentiary, we’ll be talking about drug addiction, we’ll be talking about how we are losing our children."
The state lawmakers say they plan to issue recommendations on what to do about the situation, but they did not provide a timeline for the report. Recent media reports have highlighted the problem and Ford says none of the presidential candidates campaigning in Iowa want to talk about it.
Ford said: "We are number one in the country in the incarceration of black men. We are number one in the country for the expulsion of black students and suspensions. I’m tired of the criticism that we’re not black enough, that we don’t have black issues in this state. We’re leading in two categories."
Des Moines school board member Jon Narcisse also spoke at the news conference.