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Today in “Stories In American Education,” we have a study that proves racial disparities start in preschool, public school students of color get more punishment, and a student was wrongly expelled for saving a student’s life.

Preschool Punishment:

New data from the U.S. Department of Education shows that one percent of one million students in preschool were suspended during the 2011 school year.

While that may seem like a small number, it’s no doubt a significant number, as preschool students should not be sent home from school at all, experts say.

Suspending young students is a controversial practice because 3- and 4-year-olds are unlikely to learn from that sort of discipline, said Laura Bornfreund, deputy director of early education at the think tank New America. For these children, “there’s no connection between what kind of misbehavior a preschooler did in class to being suspended,” so kids are unlikely to learn from their mistakes, she explained.

More than 8,000 toddlers were suspended from preschool during that school year. Moreover, black students, who represent 16 percent of the student population, were 42 percent of the suspended population.

Earlier studies have found that these high suspension rates for black students — males in particular — exist among older students as well, Yale associate professor Walter Gilliam said.

The race gap “was bad then, and it’s bad now,” Gilliam said. “You don’t have to be able to split hairs to see how disproportionate it is.” Gilliam’s own research has found high expulsion rates among black preschoolers, but there has been little prior research on suspension.

Check out the graph above and read more here…[Politico]

Discrimination Nation:

On a bigger scale, the U.S. Department Of Education released new data that suggested public school students of color get more punishment and less access to veteran teachers than their white peers.

The data was collected in surveys from every U.S. school district.

Black students are suspended or expelled at triple the rate of their white peers, according to the U.S. Education Department’s 2011-2012 Civil Rights Data Collection, a survey conducted every two years. Five percent of white students were suspended annually, compared with 16 percent of black students, according to the report. Black girls were suspended at a rate of 12 percent — far greater than girls of other ethnicities and most categories of boys.

At the same time, minority students have less access to experienced teachers. Most minority students and English language learners are stuck in schools with the most new teachers. Seven percent of black students attend schools where as many as 20 percent of teachers fail to meet license and certification requirements. And one in four school districts pay teachers in less-diverse high schools $5,000 more than teachers in schools with higher black and Latino student enrollment.

Read more of those sobering statistics here…[HuffPost]

The Wrongly Accused:

Speaking of suspending children of color, a Virginia Beach sixth grader was given a 10-day suspension for taking a razor away from a classmate who was cutting his arm.

Instead of earning praise for alerting school authorities and stepping in to save her classmate, Adrionna Harris was apprehended.

Adrionna’s mother, Rachel Harris, is understandably frustrated with the school’s actions. “I felt she did the right thing…There was not a teacher in sight while this boy was cutting himself. She felt like it was almost a 911 situation, that she had to help immediately, like there wasn’t time to find a teacher…The school system over-reached absolutely.” As Adrionna herself put it, “…I was just trying to help.”

In addition to the unwarranted suspension, Adrionna’s mother has had very little luck getting a response from the school. A hearing will be held to determine if Adrionna can return to the classroom.

But amid all the drama, Adrionna had this to say about her quick thinking:

“Even if I got in trouble, it didn’t matter because I was helping him … I would do it again even if I got suspended, yes.”

Read about it here…[Yahoo]

PHOTO CREDIT: U.S. Department Of Education