Less Than 1 Percent of Pre-K Kids are Suspended Each Year

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In the spirit of the old-school blogosphere, I give you Shorter Bob Somerby™:

There are 1 million kids in public preschools in the United States. In 2012, about 8,000 of them were suspended. Is that really a lot?

Good question! That’s less than 1 percent, which doesn’t immediately strike me as “astounding”—Melinda Anderson’s description in the Atlantic a couple of days ago. It means that out of every five pre-K classrooms, about one child is suspended per year.

The racial disparities in preschool suspensions are disturbing, and it’s possible that the overall suspension rate has increased a lot lately, which would also be disturbing if true. But we have no data prior to 2012, so we don’t know.

It’s also possible that suspension is just flatly inappropriate for 3-year olds, in which case even 1 percent is too high a number. But Anderson doesn’t really make that case either.

So do we have a real problem here? Beats me.


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It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

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Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

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