Progressive Discipline, Regressive Education: The Systematic Exclusion of Black Youth In and Through Expulsion Programmes

  • Camisha Sibblis
Part of the Explorations of Educational Purpose book series (EXEP, volume 27)


This chapter elucidates some of the central issues surrounding the academic exclusion of Black youth in Canada. Extensive research exists on school exclusion rates and their effects on the racialized minority student population in the US and the UK. Canada, however, refuses to compile statistics upon which such race-focused research can be based and by which claims of institutional racism may be supported. This chapter draws upon the theories of Foucault and Bourdieu to discuss how power functions in the structure of expulsion programs, and argues that these programs are both the results and sites of oppressive practices of the educational system in Canada. It also engages social constructionist discourses as it explores the manner in which Black students and their behaviours are constituted and thereby limited. It offers reflections on my positioning within my intersectional analysis, as a Black female researcher, and the specific challenges that my intersecting identities pose. Framing the issues with a situational analysis and using first-hand experience as a Social Worker within the school system, I expose the differential management of Black and white students and make a case for the exigency of anti-racism education in Canada.


Cultural Capital Black Student White Student Black People School Board 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


  1. Anderson, G. L., & Grinberg, J. (1998). Educational administration as a disciplinary practice: Appropriating Foucault’s views of power, discourse and method. Educational Administration Quarterly, 34(3), 329–353.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Angus, L. (1993). The sociology of school effectiveness. British Journal of Sociology of Education, 14(3), 333–345.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Arroyo, C. G., & Zigler, E. (1995). Racial identity, academic achievement, and the psychological well-being of economically disadvantaged adolescents. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 69, 903–914.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Ball, S. (1990). Management as a moral technology: A Luddite analysis. In S. Ball (Ed.), Foucault and education: Disciplines and knowledge. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  5. Banton, M. (1977). Racism. In The idea of race. London: Tavistock.Google Scholar
  6. Bartlett, L., & Brayboy, B. M. J. (2005). Race and schooling: Theories and ethnographies. The Urban Review, 37(5), 361–374.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Bourdieu, P. (1990). The logic of practice. Cambridge: Polity Press.Google Scholar
  8. Bourdieu, P., & Passeron, J. C. (1990). Reproduction in education, society and culture. London: Sage.Google Scholar
  9. Brown, T. M. (2007). Lost and turned out: Academic, social, and emotional experiences of students excluded from school. Urban Education, 42(5), 432–455.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Carlile, A. (2012). An ethnography of permanent exclusion from school: Revealing and untangling the threads of institutional racism. Race Ethnicity and Education, 15(2), 175–194.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Chernikoff, L. (2011). Dutch fashion mag apologizes after calling Rihanna the ‘N’ word. Fashionista, News, Retrieved from
  12. Connell, R. W. (1995). Masculinities. Cambridge: Polity Press.Google Scholar
  13. Contenta, S., & Rankin, J. (2009, June 8). Are schools too quick to offend? Toronto Star. Retrieved from
  14. Dei, G. J. S. (1999). The denial of difference: Reframing anti-racist praxis. Race, Ethnicity and Education, 2, 17–21.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Dei, G. J. S. (2000). Power, knowledge and anti-racism in education: A critical reader. Halifax: Fernwood.Google Scholar
  16. Dei, G. J. S., & James, I. M. (1998). ‘Becoming Black’: African‐Canadian youth and the politics of negotiating racial and racialised identities. Race, Ethnicity and Education, 1(1), 91–108.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Dei, G. J. S., Mazzuca, J., McIsaac, E., & Zine, J. (1997). Reconstructing ‘drop-out’: A critical ethnography of the dynamics of Black students’ disengagement from school. Toronto: University of Toronto Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Devine-Eller, A. (2005). Rethinking Bourdieu on race: A critical review of cultural capital and habitus in the sociology of education qualitative literature. Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ, USA.Google Scholar
  19. Dutch Daily News. (2011). Rihanna receives apology from Dutch fashion magazine Jackie for racist article. Dutch Daily News, Daily, Retrieved from
  20. Education Amendment Act (Progressive Discipline and School Safety), Bill 212, 38th Leg. (2007). Retrieved from
  21. Erikson, E. H. (1968). Identity, youth and crisis (1st ed.). New York: W.W. Norton.Google Scholar
  22. Fanon, F. (1967). Black skin, white masks (trans: Markmann, C. L.). New York: Grove Press.Google Scholar
  23. Farkas, G. (1996). Human capital or cultural capital? Ethnicity and poverty groups in an urban school district. New York: Aldine De Groyter.Google Scholar
  24. Farmer, S. (2010). Criminality of Black youth in inner-city schools: ‘moral panic’, moral imagination, and moral formation. Race Ethnicity and Education, 13(3), 367–381.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Farmer, T. W., Goforth, J. B., Clemmer, J. T., & Thompson, J. H. (2004). School discipline problems in rural African American early adolescents: Characteristics of students with major, minor, and no offences. Behavioural Disorders, 29(4), 317–336.Google Scholar
  26. Fine, M. (1991). Framing dropouts: Notes on the politics of an urban public high school. New York: SUNY Press.Google Scholar
  27. Foucault, M. (1977). Discipline and Punish: The birth of the prison. New York: Vintage Books.Google Scholar
  28. Foucault, M. (2000). Power. In J. Faubion (Ed.), The essential works of Michel Foucault 1954–1984: Vol.1 (trans: Hurley, R.). New York: New Press.Google Scholar
  29. Foucault, M. (2004). Je suis un artificier. In R.-P. Droit (Ed.), Michel Foucault, entretiens (trans: O’Farrell, C.). Paris: Odile Jacob (Interview conducted in 1975).Google Scholar
  30. Francis, B. (2000). Boys, girls and achievement: Addressing the classroom issues. London: Falmer.Google Scholar
  31. Hacking, I. (1999). Why ask what? In The social construction of what? (pp. 1–34). Cambridge: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  32. Haslanger, S. (1995). Ontology and social construction. Philosophical Topics, 23(2), 95–125.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Healey, M. A. (2003). Powers of misrecognition: Bourdieu and wacquant on race in Brazil. Nepantla: Views from South, 4(2), 391–402.Google Scholar
  34. Hume, D. (1748). Of natural character: The philosophical works of David Hume (Vol. 3, p. 225). Bristol, UK: Thoemmes Press (1996).Google Scholar
  35. Jennings, M. E., & Lynn, M. (2005). The house that race built: Critical pedagogy, African-American education, and the re-conceptualization of a critical race pedagogy. Educational Foundations, 19, 15–32.Google Scholar
  36. Kane, J. (2006). School exclusions and masculine, working-class identities. Gender and Education, 18(6), 673–685.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Kant, E. (1762). Physical geography. In P. Guyer & A. Wood (Eds.) (1992), The Cambridge edition of the works of Immanuel Kant. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  38. Lopez, I. P. H. (1995). The social construction of race. In R. Delgado (Ed.), Critical race theory: The cutting edge (pp. 191–203). Philadelphia: Temple University Press.Google Scholar
  39. Mac an Ghaill, M. (1994). The making of men: Masculinities, sexualities and schooling. Buckingham: Open University Press.Google Scholar
  40. Mahalik, J. R., Pierre, M. R., & Wan, S. S. C. (2006). Examining racial identity and masculinity as correlates of self-esteem and psychological distress in Black men. Journal of Multicultural Counseling and Development, 34(2), 94–104.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Mallon, R. (2007). A field guide to social construction. Philosophy Compass, 2(1), 93–108.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Mazurek, K. (1979). Multiculturalism, education and the ideology of the meritocracy: The political economy of Canadian schooling (1987). In T. Wotherspoon (Ed.). Toronto: Methuen Press.Google Scholar
  43. Mirza, H. S. (1998). Race, gender and IQ: The social consequence of a pseudo‐scientific discourse. Race Ethnicity and Education, 1(1), 109–126.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. North, C. (2006). More than words? Delving into the substantive meaning(s) of “social justice” in education. Review of Educational Research, 76(4), 507–535.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Ogbu, J. U. (1997). Understanding the school performance of urban blacks. Some essential background knowledge. In H. J. Walberg, O. Reyes, & R. P. Weissberg (Eds.), Children and youth: Interdisciplinary perspectives (Vol. 7, pp. 190–222). Thousand Oaks: Sage.Google Scholar
  46. Olneck, M. (2000). Can multicultural education change what counts as cultural capital? American Educational Research Journal, 27(2), 317–348.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Parsons, C. (2008). Race relations legislations, ethnicity and disproportionality in school exclusions in England. Cambridge Journal of Education, 38(3), 401–419.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Petiers, G. (2003). Disproportionate impact, the Safe Schools Act and racial profiling in schools: A student’s place is in the classroom. When a student is suspended from school, the student is suspended from learning. From:
  49. Pigott, R. L., & Cowen, E. L. (2000). Teacher race, child race, racial congruence, and teacher ratings of children’s school adjustment. Journal of School Psychology, 38(2), 177–196.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Pyle, A. (1999). Key philosophers in conversation. The cogito interviews. London: Routledge.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Ratcliffe, P. (1999). ‘Race’, education and the discourse of ‘exclusion’: A critical research note. Race Ethnicity and Education, 2(1), 149–156.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Renold, E. (2004). ‘Other boys’: Negotiating non-hegemonic masculinities in the primary school. Gender and Education, 16(2), 247–266.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Ryan, J. (1991). Observing and normalizing: Foucault, discipline and inequality in schooling. Journal of Educational Thought, 24(2), 104–119.Google Scholar
  54. Schwartz, D. (1997). Culture and power: The sociology of Pierre Bourdieu. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  55. Skelton, C. (2001). Male primary teachers and perceptions of masculinity. Educational Review, 50(2), 195–209.Google Scholar
  56. Skiba, R. J., Michael, R. S., Nardo, A. C., & Peterson, R. L. (2002). The color of discipline: Sources of racial and gender disproportionality in school punishment. The Urban Review, 34(4), 317–342.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Social Exclusion Unit. (1998). Truancy and school exclusion. London: HMSO.Google Scholar
  58. Vulliamy, G. (2001). A sociology of school exclusions. British Journal of Sociology of Education, 22(1), 177–184.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Wallace, J. M., Jr., Goodkind, S., Wallace, C., & Bachman, J. G. (2008). Racial, ethnic, and gender differences in school discipline among U.S. high school students: 1991–2005. The Negro Educational Review, 59(1/2), 47–62.Google Scholar
  60. Way, S. (2011). School discipline and disruptive classroom behaviour: The moderating effects of student perceptions. The Sociological Quarterly, 52, 346–375.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. Whitty, G. (2001). Education, social class and social exclusion. Journal of Education Policy, 16(4), 287–295.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  62. Yosso, T. J. (2005). Whose culture has capital? A critical race theory discussion of community cultural wealth. Race Ethnicity and Education, 8(1), 69–91.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Social WorkYork UniversityTorontoCanada

Personalised recommendations