Black Preschoolers 3.6 Times More Likely to Be Suspended Than White Students
A study from the U.S. Department of Education found black children represent 19 percent of preschool enrollment but make up 47 percent of all suspensions.
A study from the U.S. Department of Education shows black preschoolers at public schools are 3.6 times more likely to receive one or more out-of-school suspensions than white preschoolers.
The Civil Rights Data Collection conducted a survey and found black children represent 19 percent of preschool enrollment but make up 47 percent of all preschool suspensions. White students represent 41 percent of preschool enrollment but only make up 28 percent of all preschool suspensions.
The data used for the study was collected during the 2013-2014 school year and included 16,758 school districts (99.2 percent of all public school districts), 95,507 schools (99.5 percent of all public schools) and 50,035,744 total public school students.
Privately-run schools and daycares are not required to report suspension numbers.
The group broke down the numbers by males and females as well. It found black males represent 19 percent of male preschool enrollment but make up 45 percent of male suspensions. Black females represent 20 percent of female preschool enrollment but make up 54 percent of female suspensions.
The study also found similar racial disparities in suspensions for students in grades K-12. Of the 2.8 million K-12 students surveyed, 1.1 million were black and 610,000 were Latino.
Six percent of total students surveyed had received one or more out-of-school suspensions. Of that percent, 18 percent were black boys, 10 percent were black girls, 5 percent were white boys and 2 percent were white girls.
Overall, black K-12 students are 3.8 times more likely to receive one or more out-of-school suspensions than white students.
Preschoolers Suspended 3x More than Other School-Aged Children
“Expulsion in early childhood education is not an intervention. Over a decade of research and data tell us that the policies and practices of suspension and expulsion in early childhood, which disproportionately affect children of color, are causing harm to children and families,” the National Association for the Education of Young Children wrote in a statement regarding CRDC’s findings.
In the statement, NAEYC also references a twelve-year-old study from Yale University, which determined preschoolers are three-times more likely to be expelled than school-aged children, reports American Progress.
More recent data from the National Survey of Children’s Health shows 50,000 preschoolers were suspended at least once in 2016. Another 17,000 preschoolers are estimated to have been expelled, equaling out to approximately 250 preschool suspensions or expulsions each day in 2016.
Yale University Professor Walter Gilliam, a contributor to the 2005 Yale study, says the best three predictors of preschool expulsion are the three B’s: “big, black or boy”. An additional study was released by Yale in 2016 and looked into implicit racial bias among early educators, suggesting it is a large reason for the disproportionate punishment received by black boys.
In the study, teachers watched a video of preschoolers and were later asked to point out potentially troublesome behaviors. Overall, black boys were watched more closely and were sometimes flagged for challenging behaviors.
However, the video actually did not feature any challenging behavior, indicating many of the underlying causes of preschool discipline are rooted in adult bias instead of child behavior.
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I wish there were some context to this study. Most specifically, I would find it beneficial to know what the offenses involved are. That dimension would provide some contextual information to help better understand these suspensions. It might show that two students of differing races who commit the same violation are in fact treated differently. Absent that critical piece of information however, there’s really no way to know if there’s a greater number of more serious violations being committed by a smaller group, or if a disproportionate number of minority kids are in fact being treated unfairly.