FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 21, 2014
Contact: Jennifer Farmer, 202.487.0967
-This Statement Can Be Attributed to Judith Browne Dianis-
To Be Successful In School, All Children Deserve A Head Start, Not A Head Start To The Juvenile Justice System
Washington - Today, the U.S. Department of Education Civil Rights Data Collection (CRDC) released sweeping data from the 2011-2012 school year on racial disparities in education. The CRDC tracks everything from access to advanced placement courses to suspension and expulsion rates for children of color and for the first time includes data on discipline in preschool. Among the findings was startling information noting that African American preschool children accounted for 18 percent of the total preschool population but 42 percent of suspensions and African American students of all ages are suspended and expelled at a rate that's three times higher than that of white children. Advancement Project Co-Director Judith Browne Dianis released the following statement in response:
“As a pioneer in the movement to end the criminalization of youth of color, Advancement Project has long argued that too many students are being suspended, expelled, or even arrested for minor infractions like being late or violating a dress code. Students who should be sent to the guidance counselor to find out what’s really wrong are pushed out of schools. From the data, we know that children of color are disproportionately impacted by these harsh policies. We also know that children of color are not behaving any worse than other students, but due to racial and implicit bias, students of color are disciplined more severely and more frequently than White students.
“Suspensions in general do not change behaviors and are especially inappropriate for preschoolers who don't understand the punishment. Moreover, suspensions drive down academic achievement. Discipline should be a teaching opportunity.
“The information released today indicating the high numbers of African American students pushed out of preschool are wholly unacceptable. The numbers are alarming but even worse is some of the reasons these little kids are sent home- not for bringing guns to school or injuring a teacher but for disobeying rules, insubordination & disrespect – which by the way is highly subjective.
“For many preschoolers, it's their first time being socialized and they can't self-regulate like an older student or adult. They need teachers who teach right-from-wrong not simply kick them out of the classroom. Little kids need a strong head start, not a head start to the juvenile justice system.
“We need common sense, age-appropriate discipline. There is absolutely no reason that a preschool child should be denied access to an early education which helps to shape educational success. Policymakers must end destructive zero tolerance policies and give students, parents and teachers the support they need to create high quality schools that send children to college or career – not prison.”
For more information, please visit www.safequalityschools.org or contact Jennifer Farmer at 202.487.0967.