While the Sept. 5 Metro article “Fewer expelled by D.C. charters” showed progress, it gave only a cursory glance to a disturbing trend: The number of 4- and 5-year-olds being suspended or expelled is increasing. D.C. Council member David Grosso (I-At Large) is trying to address this absurdity with the bill “Pre-K Student Discipline Amendment Act of 2014,” which would ban suspensions and expulsions for these children. His legislation misses the mark; our goal should be to identify underlying causes of child disruption in classrooms.
National data show clear trends. According to the Education Department’s Office for Civil Rights, children with disabilities make up nearly 20 percent of all preschool suspensions. About one in 10 suspended preschoolers is an English language learner, and African American boys are expelled at disproportionately higher rates. So it’s a national problem, but what can the District do? In Connecticut, the Early Childhood Consultation Partnership works with families and classrooms to provide support, education and consultation to decrease suspensions. Other communities have their own different approaches. For the District, we must put funding behind methods to support these at-risk youth to ensure they have a chance to succeed.
Ankoor Y. Shah, Washington