Black Children Kicked Out of Preschool and Into Prison

Black Children Kicked Out of Preschool and Into Prison

by July 8, 2016

Behind every successful child is a parent or teacher who has a positive influence on the child. Sadly, this is not always the case. Black children are often targeted in school for disruptive behavior and suspended and expelled at a rate three times greater than white students.

Teachers who are responsible for this are actually contributing to sending black children into the juvenile justice system, and eventually prison. And it can all start as early as preschool.

Black students in kindergarten through 12th grade are suspended and expelled at a rate three times greater than white students – 2014 statistics from the U.S. Department of Education Office of Civil Rights.

White teachers were 30 percent less likely than black teachers to say a black student would someday earn a college degree – survey from The UpJohn Institute.

Black children are being kicked out of school more than white children on a regular basis and in large numbers according to the National Black Child Development Institute (NBCDI).

“The startling data on disproportionate suspension and expulsion that begins in preschool is that it extends through high school…,” – Cemeré James, the NBCDI Vice President of Policy.

Both parents and teachers need to be aware of the statistics and take action to eliminate the disparity in black children being expelled from school.

Parents, even with children in preschool, need to get involved and make themselves aware of preschool disciplinary procedures. Teachers need to be aware that “racial bias that begins with suspension in preschool follows black children throughout their education catapulting many of our children into juvenile justice systems later in life and possibly the criminal justice system as adults,” according to Cemeré James.

Education, followed by positive action, is needed in order to prevent bias in disciplinary actions toward black students. Both parents and teachers must understand how their actions can either be a positive or negative influence on black children that will remain with them for the rest of their lives.

This report provides recommendations and approaches to increase the protective factors available to ensure that young children stay in school and reap the full benefits of early learning while simultaneously supporting schools and teachers to actively resist the criminalization of African American youth.

The specific recommendations include:

• Prohibiting suspensions and expulsions

• Improving teacher preparation and education with an eye toward cultural responsiveness and racial equity

• Expanding access to in-school behavioral and emotional support services, including early childhood mental health consultation, or ECMHC

• Increasing funding for the Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting Program, or MIECHV

• Supporting a diverse teacher workforce and pipeline

• Promoting meaningful family engagement strategies

High-quality early childhood education has the potential to improve long-term life outcomes for all children—particularly those born into challenging circumstances such as poverty.  In order for students to learn, however, they have to actually be in the classroom. As such, it is time to change the nation’s approaches and actions related to school discipline.

It is important that policymakers understand the harmful consequences of suspensions and expulsions so that they can implement the proper policy solutions to ensure that the nation’s youth are in a position to succeed.

To read the full report visit https://cdn.americanprogress.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/10/08000111/PointOfEntry-reportUPDATE.pdf

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