Early Childhood Expulsions and Suspensions Undermine Our Nation's Most Promising Agent of Opportunity and Social Justice

by Walter S. Gilliam

Sep 1, 2016

This brief presents the latest information regarding early childhood expulsions and suspensions with a special emphasis on how continuing gender and race disparities violate the civil rights of many of our youngest learners and contribute to our nation's costly achievement gap by locking our boys and African-American children out of educational opportunities and diminishing the ability of early education to provide the social justice remedy it was designed to produce.

  • Students who are expelled or suspended are as much as ten times more likely to drop out of high school, experience academic failure and grade retention.
  • Hispanic and African-American boys combined represent 46 percent of all boys in preschool, but 66 percent of their same-age peers who are suspended.
  • Children of color and children from low-income families have less front door access to high-quality early learning programs and are further denied by being pushed out the back door at disproportionate rates.
  • Black children are regarded as significantly less innocent and more culpable than other children.
  • Recent research suggests that compared to their sisters, boys are more susceptible to the ill-effects of poverty, trauma, broken homes, stressed communities, and low-quality schools, with the results being a greater likelihood for truancy, poor academic achievement, behavioral problems, school drop-out, and crime.