Suspension and Implicit Racial Bias

New Research shows race is a major factor in how early childhood educators determine whom to suspend and whom not to.

A recently concluded research undertaken by Rosemarie Allen, a lecturer on Early Childhood Education at the Metropolitan State University of Denver, reveals some disturbing trends in how disciplinary actions are meted against our nation’s youngest students.

According to Allen’s research, the rate, at which preschoolers are being suspended, has increased significantly. Her study also reveals that black students are more likely to be suspended than any other racial group.

Citing a wide range of research data sources, Allen presents some astonishing statistics showing the depth of racial bias in the manner, in which suspension and expulsion are meted out to students.

The research gives examples from a 2005 Yale University study, which revealed that preschoolers were expelled at three times the rate of students in kindergarten through 12th grade combined.

According to Allen, a disproportionate amount of these suspensions affected black students.

Allen’s research shows that in 2012 U.S. Department of Education data revealed that African-American children in early childhood programs were 48 percent more likely to be suspended from school than white students.

Allen, who herself had felt the effects of multiple suspensions and expulsions as a child, describes this phenomenon as the “Preschool-to-Prison Pipeline”, saying such disciplinary actions are too enduring for our nation’s youngest generation.

The study claims that such actions make black students feel unwelcome at school very early in their educational career, which could have serious effects on their later educational achievements.

In addition to identifying the problems of suspension in preschools and how they affect students of various racial backgrounds Allen’s research also highlighted the possible causes and solutions in tackling the problem.

Some of the solutions mentioned include awareness training for educators and the need to stop making a big issue out of the incidents, in which students are just acting out as usual.

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