Everyone should be alarmed by the U.S. Department of Education report showing that black students as early as preschool face disproportionately high suspension rates.
The report released Friday showed that suspension and other racial disparities from having high quality teachers to access to high level classes start even in preschool for African American children. It’s a tragedy that unfolds every day and helps feed black children’s brooding discontent with school.
The report said African American children are about 18 percent of the kids in preschool programs but are about half of the preschoolers suspended more than once, The Associated Press notes. The problem helps feed the prison system with the people who were turned off by school at an early age.
The study showed that black students of all ages were suspended and expelled at a rate that’s three times higher than that of white children. Black girls also are suspended at a rate higher than girls of any other race or than most boys.
The report said nearly 5,000 preschoolers were suspended once and 2,500 more than once. Latino children constitute nearly a third of all preschoolers but comprised 25 percent of the preschoolers suspended once and 20 percent of preschoolers suspended more than once.
The racial connection the report uncovered is a problem President Barack Obama must correct before he has any hope of instituting a universal preschool program nationwide. If the problem starts in the early grades and continues to push children of color away from embracing school throughout their years of education, then it certainly can be corrected early.
That could help ensure that black and Latino children become lifelong learners, enjoying education and finally closing the achievement gap for good.