High-quality early childhood education has the potential to improve long-term life outcomes for all children. In order to learn, however, students actually have to be in the classroom. At the same time that the United States is expanding access to high-quality early learning opportunities, alarming statistics suggest that these environments can serve as a point of entry to the school-to-prison pipeline, which most acutely affects African American children. For example, African American children represent 18 percent of all preschoolers but make up 42 percent of those suspended and nearly half of those suspended multiple times. Given the profound consequences that suspension, expulsion, and other zero-tolerance policies can have on very young children, it is time to change the national approach to preschool discipline. The growing movement to resist the criminalization of African Americans underscores the need to prevent schools from serving as a point of entry to the criminal justice system. The Center for American Progress and the National Black Child Development Institute will release a new report with recommendations on how to bring an end to preschool suspensions and expulsions.
Please join the Center for American Progress as we host a conversation with parents, organizers, and researchers in order to explore ways to create more supportive early learning environments.
Winnie Stachelberg, Executive Vice President for External Affairs, Center for American Progress
Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN)
Janine Bacquie, Director, Early Childhood Policy and Practice, and Key Liaison to the Black Community Crusade for Children, Children’s Defense Fund
Jonathan Stith , National Coordinator, Alliance for Educational Justice
Todd A. Cox, Senior Fellow, Center for American Progress