Travis Gosa, an expert on race relations, African American History and professor of African American Studies in the College of Arts and Sciences at Cornell University, says the data released Friday by the Education Department's civil rights office reveal frightening racial disparities in early childhood education.
“While black students comprise about 18 percent of preschool students, they represent half of the students suspended multiple times. The data also show that the experience of punishment begins early and persists in later grades: black students are three times more likely than white students to be suspended or expelled.
“Kicking three and four-year-olds out of school is an irresponsible educational practice that contributes to the further criminalization of minority children. Positive Pre-K experiences are key for closing the black-white achievement gaps and ensuring that all kids — regardless of race and social background — have real opportunities to learn.
“Racial disparities in preschool punishment threaten to destroy the potential of black youth before they even have a chance to excel. ‘Get tough’ and zero-tolerance school policies are troubling at any grade level – for any child – but the stigma of punishment for black kids has been shown to increase the odds of dropout and incarceration.
“These disparities in early childhood punishment also reflect the challenges white, middle-class female teachers – who represent the vast majority of early childhood teachers – face when they educate black children. Why these teachers are choosing to isolate and exclude black children from the classroom, rather than teach them, deserves the full attention of educators and those who care about educational civil rights.”
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