"From Native American tribal nations to inner city barrios, all of our children deserve a high quality education." -- Catherine E. Lhamon, Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights, US Dept. of Education.
March 21, 2014: The U. S. Dept. of Education released today the "first comprehensive look at civil rights data from every public school in the country in nealry 15 years," according to the DOE release.
The data was collected from the 2011-12 school year, and includes all 97,000 public schools and 16, 500 school districts in the nation. Sec'y of Ed Arne Duncan said the data "shines a clear, unbiased light" on where education opportunities for children are equal -- and where they are not.
Particularly disturbing is the data on the youngest children. As Attorney General Eric Holder noted, the report shows "racial disparities in school discipline policies...begin during preschool."
In 2011-12, over 8,000 children were suspended from preschool at least once. And, as Caitlin Emma posted on Politico's Morning Education:
... Black children constitute 18% of all kids attending preschool but account for 48% of all students suspended more than once, the new data show.
Across K-12 schools, black students represented 16% of the student population but 42% suspended more than once in the 2011-12 school year.
Earlier studies have found that these high suspension rates for black students — males in particular — exist among older students as well, Yale associate professor Walter Gilliam said... Gilliam’s own research has found high expulsion rates among black preschoolers, but there has been little prior research on suspension.
Suspending young students is a controversial practice because 3- and 4-year-olds are unlikely to learn from that sort of discipline, said Laura Bornfreund, deputy director of early education at the think tank New America. For these children, “there’s no connection between what kind of misbehavior a preschooler did in class to being suspended,” so kids are unlikely to learn from their mistakes, she explained....
From the DOE report [emphases ours]:
"...The 2011-2012 [data] shows that access to preschool programs is not a reality for much of the country....[ About 40% of public school districts do not offer preschool, and where it is available, it is mostly part-day only. Of the school districts that operate public preschool programs, barely half are available to all students within the district.]"
Further, "the 2011-12 school year was the first time the CRDC collected data on preschool discipline and the first year that all public schools reported data separately for Native-Hawaiian/Pacific Islanders. As a result, the CRDC shows that racial disparities in discipline begin in the early years of schooling: Native-Hawaiian/Pacific Islander kindergarten students are held back a year at nearly twice the rate of white kindergarten students..."