Pre-K suspensions common in Maryland schools

Nov 12, 2013 by

Baltimore leads in suspensions of 3- and 4-year-olds in metro area

Erica Green –

Dozens of pre-kindergartners were suspended last school year in Maryland, with the most suspensions in Baltimore, highlighting a little-known practice that some education experts say is too extreme for toddlers who are just being introduced to educational settings.

The number of out-of-school suspensions in Baltimore for children ages 3 and 4 nearly doubled since the previous year to 33, according to data provided by the city school system.

Some other area districts reported just a handful of pre-K suspensions in the last school year, while Anne Arundel County reported 19 and Howard County officials said they have never suspended a child that young.

 

The practice comes to light as the city school system is revising its suspension policy to require schools to eliminate automatic suspensions for certain violations and first requiring other interventions, such as parent conferences.

The pre-K suspensions also underscore a broader debate about zero-tolerance policies, sparked by young children being suspended for actions such as making gun hand gestures and chewing a breakfast pastry in the shape of a gun. Such policies are aimed at making schools safe, but some say they have been taken too far.

David Beard, education policy director at Advocates for Children and Youth, said any school system should be hard-pressed to find a reason to suspend 3- or 4-year-olds, because they are too young to understand such a consequence.

“Anything before third grade, really, a suspension makes no sense,” Beard said. “Just in terms of their brain development … they don’t know the difference from a vacation. It’s really concerning for these really young kids, because that’s a really critical time when they’re supposed to be learning their letters and their numbers.”

Across Maryland, 91 pre-K students were suspended or expelled in the 2011-2012 school year, the most recent year with statewide data available. That compares to 75 in 2009 and 105 in 2010.


Most of the students were suspended for physical attacks on teachers or students, though a handful were suspended for offenses such as sexual activity, possession of a firearm or other guns, inciting a public disturbance, and vandalism.

The data also show that pre-kindergartners were suspended for insubordination and disrespect, classroom disruption and refusing to obey school policies.

Bill Reinhard, a spokesman for the Maryland State Department of Education, said the state is concerned about suspensions at all grade levels and “believes that too many students are suspended out of school for nonviolent activity, and that too many suspended students do not receive the educational services to which they are entitled under the law.”

The state school board is overhauling its discipline regulations to require districts to eliminate “zero-tolerance” policies and greatly reduce the number of suspensions for nonviolent offenses such as insubordination.

Beard noted that the proposed state regulations, which he supports, may not have an impact on pre-K students because the policies target older students who are out of school for long periods of time.

He hopes the state’s discipline reforms will evolve to differentiate among grade levels because data show that children’s chances of suspension rise when they become full-time students.

He pointed to state data showing a suspensions jump between pre-K and kindergarten. In the 2011-2012 school year, 673 kindergartners were suspended in Maryland — a number that has risen each year since 2008.

“The multiplier there is huge,” Beard said. “I don’t know what happens to these kids, whether or not they go to summer camp with the devil or something. But it seems it’s our patience with them that changes.”

Walter S. Gilliam, director of the Edward Zigler Center in Child Development and Social Policy at the Yale School of Medicine, said it would be in the state’s best interest to investigate how it can reduce the number of students who are pushed out of school before they’ve started full time.

via Pre-K suspensions common in Maryland schools – baltimoresun.com.

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2 Comments

  1. Avatar

    All the money in the world will not replace PARENTING. It is obvious parents have lost their way. Because of free handouts people are having children they don’t want and are ill prepared to parent. We keep throwing money at the problem and think it is the answer. Sorry but you don’t have to be rich to raise healthy, successful children. You have to love them, respect them, teach them to love and respect in return and provide the guidance and discipline they need to study and do well in school. Or maybe the plan is just the opposite. Could it be the government hand outs are meant to dumb down our children and make them dependent on the government in the future when they cannot get or hold a job?? Again, if you want successful children you need to be a successful parent. It is THE ONLY answer to our education problem.

  2. Avatar
    KAren

    What this tells you is what we all have known for a long time. The answer is not more money. The answer is not new standards every 5-10 years that on benefit the textbook companies. The answer is PARENTING. Good parents raise good people with the ability to learn and succeed. You don’t have to be rich to be a good parent. PARENTING is the key. Until we get back to morals, God and the family we will never fix the education problem. But that is assuming they truly want to fix the education problem. I personally think the destruction of the family was done on purpose in order to dumb down all children and make future generations more dependent on the government and more obedient to the master. Sorry folks but THERE is a plan to destroy this country and it started a long time ago. You will look back 10 years from now and ask yourself why you didn’t pay more attention and do something while you could. We are so close to the end I am not sure we can turn it around.

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