Smith-Evans, Rich don’t know: How do you get suspended from preschool?
We don’t know the answer to that. We never taught below the fifth grade level.
That said, someone else doesn’t seem to know, and it seems to us that maybe she should. That person was quoted today in a news report by Motoko Rich.
Rich was reporting on “comprehensive data released Friday by the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights.” We were struck by this passage:
RICH (3/21/14): One of the striking statistics to emerge from the data, based on information collected during the 2011-12 academic year, was that even as early as preschool, black students face harsher discipline than other students.Should it be “deeply troubling” to see black kids being suspended from preschool “at such horrendous rates?”
While black children make up 18 percent of preschool enrollment, close to half of all preschool children who are suspended more than once are African-American.
“To see that young African-American students—or babies, as I call them—are being suspended from pre-K programs at such horrendous rates is deeply troubling,” said Leticia Smith-Evans, interim director of education practice at the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund.
“It’s incredible to think about or fathom what pre-K students could be doing to get suspended from schools,” she added.
We’re not sure—in part, because Rich never says what the rates actually are. Rich never says what percentage of kids get suspended from preschool, whether once or twice.
It may be that almost no one is getting suspended from preschool. Rich reports that black kids are getting suspended in disproportionate numbers—but how many kids does this involve?
Rich’s report doesn’t say.
Just yesterday, we noted that the New York Times often has trouble handling basic statistics. This strikes us as the latest example. That said, we’re even less impressed with Smith-Evans, who emotes to Rich while displaying what looks to us like a possible bit of cluelessness.
We’ll be honest—we didn’t know that kids get suspended from preschool at all. That said, should the director of education practice at such an important organization know more about this than we do?
We’re not sure what the answer is. For today, let's consider the rather obvious way we were supposed to react to this news report:
As we read this news report, we knew how we were supposed to react. The way we actually did react was substantially different.
As of now, we plan to start with this report next week. As for our basic reaction this morning:
We knew that we were supposed to get upset at all those preschool programs. Instead, we found ourselves upset with the slacker approach and the scripted outrage sometimes found among the watchdogs who are supposed to be helping our kids.
How do you get suspended from preschool? Should Smith-Evans know?
One last obvious question: Do the statistics cited by Rich mean that even as early as preschool, black students face harsher discipline than other students?
Not necessarily, no—though they certainly may. As we always say: