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Why Were 4- and 5-Year-Olds Suspended From NYC Schools Last Year?

Dozens of four and five year-olds were suspended from New York City schools last year

Chancellor Dennis Walcott

New York City schools have a serious problem on their hands… Last year, dozens of four- and five-year-old students were suspended. Why were children who have practically just left their mother’s womb facing steep punishment from their school?

Data released on Friday shows that nine city elementary schools issued at least 10 suspensions to 4- and 5-year-olds last school year. Among them was Public School 189 in Manhattan, which handed out a stunning 19 suspensions to 4-year-olds. Josephine Aspha, a parent whose child is a second grader at PS 189, is disappointed in the number of suspensions issued to toddlers. “That is so unfair for those kids,” she said, noting she wished the school had a proper way of intervening to correct kids’ behavior.

New York City Civil Liberties Union executive director Donna Lieberman said of the data: “These are statistics that have failure written all over them.” She continued: “It’s hard to fathom any reason why nineteen 4-year-olds would be suspended from school by a competent educational system.” Lieberman noted the city’s suspension policies hit minority and special education students hardest.

The statistics showed that minorities and kids with special needs were more often the targets of discipline. Black kids served 53% of the suspensions while they represent just 28% of the city’s students. In total, 69% of suspensions went to boys, though they make up 51% of the student populations.In addition, students with disabilities make up just 12% of the student population but serve 32% of the suspensions. Citywide, suspensions in all the grades were down slightly last year over the previous year, dropping from 73,441 to 69,643.

Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott said schools have reduced suspensions last year by addressing “incidents before they escalate” but added the city is still looking at the disparities among different racial and ethnic groups. “This is a national problem, and in our schools, we have implemented a pilot as part of the Young Men’s Initiative to reinforce positive behavior through coaching and problem solving,” he said. “We have more work to do but we are headed in the right direction.”

 

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53 comments

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  2. In addition to what has been so eloquently stated by Marilyn, Black children are still being suspended at record high numbers. Special education students who dissplay behaviors that have been recorded in their Individual Education Plan (IEP), should not be suspended because of that, but they’re suspended anyway. These schools are not working to help improve/change their behavior; the principals are using suspension to get the problem children out of their schools. The children in middle school, are given 30, 60 and 90 day suspensions. The children are repeatedly suspended, up to 17 to 20 times per school year. I don’t care what Dennis Walcott says, he only taught kindergarten for a year or two. He has no vast educational experience. The New York City public school system is failing our children—and it’s not the teacher’s fault. The blame lies directly on Mayor Bloomberg, who has filled our schools with incompetent principals who came from his non-accredited Leadership Academy. Like Bloomberg, many of these principals have never been educators, or they taught for 1 to 2 years, went to the “fake” leadership academy and have become principals, virtually overnight. Meanwhile, teachers with years of experience, can not get positions as principals because Bloomberg has created a school system that is designed to fail.

  3. Dennis Walcott is not an educator – he is a political puppet for Bloomberg to ensure the privatization of public school – he does not have a vested interest in Black/African children’s future – he does not have children. . .

  4. The same people who are making the argument that 4 and 5 year olds should not be suspended will be the same people doing a press conference with Johnny Lawyer saying the school failed to protect their little angel from this disruptive boy or girl. A FEW children, even at that early age, are unmanageable. That's the sad truth.

  5. don't be fooled…a 4-5 year old is FAR from a behavioral problem a competent adult could not handle.

  6. How much data is required for Blacks to understand and get it? Black parents should just stop sending their children to these prisons. The education system (pre-k to 12) in America cares nothing for Blacks and Hispanics. The American education system only educates White children.

  7. Whoa! As a 19-year veteran teacher, who has taught in myriad school systems, I can certainly attest to the hopelessness of poverty and racism that seeps into every child's educational experience. It makes the weak weaker, and the strong stronger. Money in pur educational coffers would provide better support, better conditions, and a gradual end to the ineffective ways most behavior problems are handled. The best schools- behavior, staffing, extra-curricula activities, standardized test scores, etc., are those with multiracial student bodies. When schools have to become "attractive" to everyone, not just the kids in the immediate neighborhood, and anyone may attend, those students will be better off. and money ncludes transportation, parenting, all the accoutrements that make educating children well, more than possible.

  8. Everything starts at home……HELP THE PARENTS…FIRST.
    THEN THE PARENTS KNOW HOW TO HELP THEIR CHILDREN..

  9. As a retired principal, I have seen a few that had to be sent home. Schools are limited, by law, and there are some uncontrollable kindergartners who pose a threat to other students and themselves. Sounds unbelievable but it is true. It is sad and unfortunate but true. We would try everything possible and send them home as a last resort. Usually the student needed professional help we could no provide with our limited resources.

  10. As a retired principal, I have seen a few that had to be sent home. Schools are limited, by law, and there are some uncontrollable kindergartners who pose a threat to other students and themselves. Sounds unbelievable but it is true. It is sad and unfortunate but true. We would try everything possible and send them home as a last resort. Usually the student needed professional help we could no provide with our limited resources.

    • Am I missing something here, I thought teachers are professionals. The education system should be dynamic and move with time. Teacher training should focus on the academic as well as managing the ever changing challenges brought about by the collapse of family systems. No excuse for bad parenting but this is the new society we live in and someone somewhere has to reign

    • Unruly students distract the other students who are attempting to learn and when the teacher is having to spend a considerable amount of time dealing with an uncontrolled child the other students are neglected and suffer. This can also lead to other students following their lead if the punishment is not sufficient. At my school we could be paddled by the teacher, principle, or coach for any offense. If it was bad enough they would call the parent and they would come and spank you themselves. Its a different world and it shows.

    • Kurt Howard, you are preaching to the choir! I still reside in the town where I was born, and I am so glad one of the schools in our district is an alternative school. Although providing discipline is part of a teacher's job, it should only be a small part of it. Nothing makes me madder than kids that interrupt the learning environment for teachers and other students.

    • Nancy Ellis, I fully understand and agree with your comment. Thank you for being an educator.

  11. Lisa SimplySunshyne Jennings

    If you were reading, you would have seen that many are "special needs" which means that they should be accomodated. I think it's just racially motivated myself.

  12. Lisa SimplySunshyne Jennings

    If you were reading, you would have seen that many are "special needs" which means that they should be accomodated. I think it's just racially motivated myself.

    • Not all cases are racially motivated. Unless you have taught these kids, or been exposed to them, then you can't say for sure what the causes are.

    • Lisa SimplySunshyne Jennings

      You are right, however I am the mother of a special needs child, and those cases in which the children are "special needs" really need to be re-evaluated. That's what professionals are for within the education system. The one thing parents do need to remember is that the teachers are only gonna take your child's education as serious as you do as a parent.

    • Exactly, as parents we just need to be more proactive in our kids lives, especially dealing with education.

    • Lisa SimplySunshyne Jennings

      True, and I don't know if you've seen "Waiting for Superman" but that said it all.

    • Yes, I saw the movie and was sick and so glad that my kids are all grown. I don't know what I would do if we were still living in a large city having to deal with that mess. I left NYC 20 years ago and my kids school down here in the south was very different, I felt so bad for those kids. And my memories of attending school in Brooklyn were not like that, guess times have really changed in that regard.

    • Lisa SimplySunshyne Jennings, you are absolutely right! My mother was a special needs teacher for most of her 35-year career, and she gave her students a lot of latitude. She seldom sent anyone to the office, and I don't recall any of her students being suspended. She loved her students as if they were her own, and fought tirelessly to make sure that the school met their needs. Also, she maintained great relationships with the parents, and they would actually call and visit her long after she was no longer their child's teacher. No one was going to mistreat her "children". You seem like a great parent. God Bless you and your child.

  13. teachers are incompetent. Do not understand Piaget Child Development par excellence or could be following the mold of racism.

    • A complex story. Part of the problem is the poor class management skills of teachers. Part is related to the ineffectiveness of Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott, who has never demonstrated himself to be a strong and effective leader for the rights of the black community. And part is related to the condition of the black family. We need help on all 3 levels.

    • A complex story. Part of the problem is the poor class management skills of teachers. Part is related to the ineffectiveness of Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott, who has never demonstrated himself to be a strong and effective leader for the rights of the black community. And part is related to the condition of the black family. We need help on all 3 levels.

    • Blame the child,blame the parent,blame the school,blame the system,blame the whitefolks…..when to we all put our heads together and develop SOLUTIONS that works for everyone..WE HAVE AN ISSUE FOLKS but we are not without hope …. our children needs education and it is up to us to make sure they get it no matter how complex the ISSUE might be.

    • The teacher's hands are tied behind their backs when dealing with children that their own parents can't control at home.

  14. You know what's going on..kids are learning the wrong things too soon, just as in pregnancy there are stages. Parents, some just should have never been. And many are from one parent family homes. Nowadays, that's too much for these teenage mom's. They really need advocates, they are still children themselves.

  15. Try working with them and you will probably have a better idea.

  16. I agree. The parents have some responsibility to see that their kids are well behaved. And if they aren't that they will have consequences.

    • Exactly, what happened to spanking that butt. What happened to real parenting.

    • Trudy I want to wish you a happy thanksgiving. Donna Freeman Angelone

    • Samantha Samie Berger

      Child Protective Services is what happened. Used to be that you got ya butt tore up by ya parents and probably the neighbor next door when you was up to somethin you had no biz doin but now you as the parent have to be careful beatin that tail for the CPS worker knockin on ya door talkin about there's a pending case action against you for child abuse, happened to me 3 times and I still beat mine's tail if they get off the chain but it scary especially when you don't have anyone to tell you any different. Hell I remember when the school could beat ya butt.

    • Gm Samantha, you have a point with, and I need to find out what started all this anti-spanking foolishness. It seems as if they took away our rights to discipline our kids so that they could have control and throw them in jail to make money and create jobs. Prison industry is a huge money maker.

    • Samantha Samie Berger, I agree with your comment. I knew nothing about calling Social Services when I was growing up. You got your tail whipped, and you said nothing. Parents could actually have control then. Social Services is good in some ways, and not so good in others.

  17. Someone should ask the parents why are their kids so unruly and disruptive. My good friend is an elementary school teacher up in NYC, and the stories she tells me are just horrible. The home life is spilling over into society.

    • Please, racism is in the schools. I work with kids and a black male who acts identical to his white peers gets punished, sent to the office, while his white peer behaving the same way gets a warning.

    • Yes racism is everywhere, however, we still need to do better, because its not going to change. We as a people need to change, we can't do what others do, even on my job, i would never attempt to do the things that white folks do, so I don't. It is what it is. We must do better people.

    • That's a racist comment in itself. We don't demand better from blacks we demand equal and fair treatment. Your comment acts like its okay to mistreat our kids because they should be better and that's bull. They should be treated the same ad other kids of different races. End of story.

    • I never said that we shouldn't be treated fairly, I'm just merely stating that right now, that is not our reality, therefore, we must do better to not fall into the trap. Also studies show that students with active parents are treated differently, therefore, we must do better. What is wrong with doing better.

    • Christine Hartzog-Meekins I as a white man married to a hispanic black man, it is about respect at times. I come from a teaching background and have teacher friends. many will say that when the white kids get caught they kiss ass, when the black ones get caught they get rude. Maybe some have been taught more how to play the system, maybe they have just had some fear installed

    • Christine Hartzog-Meekins I as a white man married to a hispanic black man, it is about respect at times. I come from a teaching background and have teacher friends. many will say that when the white kids get caught they kiss ass, when the black ones get caught they get rude. Maybe some have been taught more how to play the system, maybe they have just had some fear installed

    • I agree with, and have seen it happen many times. When our kids get caught they are so fast to react in aggressive and rude ways, and other kids say sorry or at least pretend to be sorry. Like I said some of our kids are very unruly, point blank, because its tolerated in the home. My kids would have gotten their butt beat down with a belt.

    • yeah mine too and I hated it then and am happy I had that fear now

    • @Nita We all know that racism exists in the schools..it's interwoven throughout the fabric of this country…Juwanza Kunjufu wrote The Conspiracy to Destroy Black Males (boys). Remember The Mis-Education of The Negro, by Carter G. Woodson? Racism, is nothing new, the problem is making Parents aware. Many drop off their kids and are Glad they are in school! Not concerned with what they are learning, not sitting in class, not checking credentials of teachers, because many do not have teaching certificates!

    • Amen, to that. We were raised different, if I missed behaved in school, my mom would beat my butt, so I knew better. I was told school is a place for learning and that's that. No excuses at all. And believe me as an adult I am very grateful my mom was strict because it taught me how to be a great mom to my boys. BTW I wasn't allowed to bring home grades lower than a B, for real.

    • Rashida Zarif , as well as being proactive in our kids lives. I raised four men, and all of them are smart because I as a parent expected more out of them, and taught them that the odds were against them and how to navigate in that world.

    • What is unfair is putting kids who don't want to be in school with kids who do. Some kids are disrespectful, disruptive, and dangerous. Even four and five year olds can be dangerous to their peers. They bite and poke at eyes with pencils. What's unfair is that only the industrial prison complex pay serious attention to classroom apathy. They are banking on it! I see the future of public education based online. No more school buildings. Learning is going to be the responsibility of the family and the student, and possibly a paid tutor…

  18. This is an atrocity.

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