The Atlantic

Why Are So Many Preschoolers Getting Suspended?

The frequency of punishment has a troubling racial skew.
Source: Rogelio V. Solis / AP

Tunette Powell travels across the country counseling families and mentoring youth. An award-winning motivational speaker and author, her professional work in the education field ranges from training nonprofit leaders to consulting for colleges and universities. But none of Powell’s career-related skills could prepare her for the frustration and helplessness of seeing her two sons suspended from preschool, which she pegged to overly harsh and racially biased discipline. In a July 2014 that gained national attention, Powell relates how her boys—ages 3 and 4—were suspended from their Omaha preschool program eight times total in one year. Once published, the essay resonated with readers nationwide. “So many parents reached out [to me] … a lot of black mothers” who shared her experience with excessive suspensions, said Powell.

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