An intriguing investigative report done by The Baltimore Sun’s Erica L. Green published this week found that suspensions for preschoolers is used statewide as a means of classroom discipline for causes such as insubordination and violent behavior, among others.
Here’s what Green discovered: Throughout Maryland, 91 pre-K students were suspended or expelled in the 2011-12 school year. In comparison, 75 were punished in such a way in 2009; 105 received such punishment in 2010.
Some 28,800 children were enrolled in state preschool programs during that time, the state reports.
“Most of the students were suspended for physical attacks on teachers or students, though a handful were suspended for offenses such as sexual activity, possession of a firearm or other guns, inciting a public disturbance, and vandalism,” the reporter wrote.
“The data also show that prekindergartners were suspended for insubordination and disrespect, classroom disruption and refusing to obey school policies,” she added.
The state “believes that too many students are suspended out of school for nonviolent activity, and that too many suspended students do not receive the educational services to which they are entitled under the law,” Bill Reinhard, a spokesman for the Maryland State Department of Education, told the Sun.
Of course there are too many children suspended--any child suspended is one too many, in my opinion.
Still, the infractions are sobering and eliminate dangerious scenarios in class.
And yet, I wonder if the punishment even hits home with the offenders.
The psychologists I’ve interviewed about brain development in 3- and 4-year-old children suggest that pupils of this age don’t have much of a sense of time.
In fact, when they recommend time-outs, they suggest they happen immediately following an incident and for only short durations of time.
Frankly, my own 4-year-old child never knows what day of the week it is, nor does she seem able to understand the passage of time in terms of minutes on a clock.
So, what do you think?
Should we be expelling preschoolers--or should we dole out different types of consequences?
What’s happening in your state? We’d love to know and share your views.
A version of this news article first appeared in the Early Years blog.