Equity & Diversity Report Roundup

Early Childhood

By Christina A. Samuels — October 11, 2016 1 min read
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Black children make up only 19 percent of the children enrolled in public preschool but account for 47 percent of those suspended from preschool. Researchers at Yale University suggest in a study released last month that implicit bias—the negative or positive feelings people are unaware they hold—may be behind that disparity.

Researchers shared vignettes with 135 preschool teachers that described a child acting out on the playground, ignoring the teacher, pushing classmates, and otherwise misbehaving. The vignettes differed only by names of students: Jake and Emily were chosen as names connoting white children, and DeShawn or Latoya were given as black names.

The study found that black teachers tended to hold “black” preschoolers to a higher standard than white teachers did. In general, black teachers recommended harsher exclusionary discipline, such as suspension or expulsion, for all children.

Told that the misbehaving children had a difficult home life, teachers showed more empathy—but only when the teacher and the child were of the same race. When the races differed, teachers rated the behavior as harder to fix.

A version of this article appeared in the October 12, 2016 edition of Education Week as Early Childhood


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