Preschool suspensions really happen — and that's not OK
This story is part of a series from NPR Ed exploring the challenges U.S. schools face meeting students' mental health needs.
Every year, thousands of children are suspended from preschool.
Take a second to let that sink in.
According to the U.S. Department of Education, 6,743 children who were enrolled in district-provided pre-K in 2013-14 received one or more out-of-school suspensions.
And that's just public pre-K. Still more children were likely suspended from the nation's many privately-run preschools and day cares.
While most suspensions come as the result of a child's disruptive, sometimes violent, behavior, experts and advocates now argue that suspending a 3- or 4-year-old, no matter how bad the behavior, is a bad idea.
"Expelling preschoolers is not an intervention," according to a policy statementissued earlier this year by the National Association for the Education of Young Children and endorsed by the American Academy of Pediatrics. "Rather, it disrupts the learning process, pushing a child out the door of one early care and education program, only for him or her to be enrolled somewhere else, continuing a negative cycle of revolving doors that increases inequality and hides the child and family from access to meaningful supports."
But what to do?
Answer: Study Connecticut.
First, lawmakers there took a rare vote last year, limiting out-of-school suspensions for children from preschool through second grade.
More importantly, though, the state has spent more than a decade pioneering an intensive, classroom-level intervention — one that new research from Yale suggests is making a powerful difference in preschools across Connecticut.
The boy with the orange socks
Children bound from wall to wall through a small YMCA gymnasium in a low-income neighborhood of Bridgeport, Conn. While most play tag, one boy wearing bright orange socks heads straight for a crate in the corner. There, among the foam Audio: Preschool suspensions really happen — and that's not OK | 89.3 KPCC: