Black students are more likely to be suspended from U.S. public schools, even as tiny preschoolers, reports the Associated Press. The racial disparities, from access to high-level classes and experienced teachers to discipline, were highlighted in a report today by the Education Department’s civil rights arm. Black children represent about 18 percent of children enrolled in preschool programs in schools, but almost half of the students suspended more than once, the report said. Advocates long have said get-tough suspension and arrest policies in schools have contributed to a “school-to-prison” pipeline that snags minority students, but much of the emphasis has been on middle school and high school policies.
This was the first time the department reported data on preschool discipline. Earlier this year, the Obama administration issued guidance encouraging schools to abandon what it described as overly zealous discipline policies that send students to court instead of the principal’s office. Even before the announcement, school districts have been adjusting policies that disproportionately affect minority students. Attorney General Eric Holder said, “Every data point represents a life impacted and a future potentially diverted or derailed. This administration is moving aggressively to disrupt the school-to-prison pipeline in order to ensure that all of our young people have equal educational opportunities.”