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New Data Reveal 250 Preschoolers Are Suspended or Expelled Every Day


November 6, 2017
Rashid Malik
Center for American Progress

Twelve years ago, Yale University researchers uncovered a surprising fact: Preschoolers were more likely to be expelled than children in any other grade. In fact, preschoolers were being expelled at rates more than three times higher than school-aged children. Subsequent research found that the effect of this phenomenon was also racialized. A report by the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights showed that African American children represented 18 percent of public preschool enrollment, but 48 percent of preschoolers receiving multiple out-of-school suspensions.

While these numbers are undeniably appalling, they only account for a small portion of the overall preschool population. Many 3- and 4-year-olds attend preschool in private programs, which are not required to report suspensions and expulsions.

The Center for American Progress analyzed new data from the 2016 National Survey of Children’s Health, finding that an estimated 50,000 preschoolers were suspended at least once. Another 17,000 or so preschoolers are estimated to have been expelled.* This is the first nationally representative survey of preschool discipline that includes private preschools as well as public schools. Which means that, across all types of settings, the average school day sees roughly 250 instances of a preschooler being suspended or expelled.