Preschool-to-Prison Pipeline

Preschool Discipline

During our recent Communities in Action forum, Fannie Glover shared with us information about preschool suspension rates, and the impact they have on long-term education outcomes. The school-to-prison pipeline, it turns out, can be better described with alliteration as the preschool-to-prison pipeline.  As their brains and social skills are developing, BIPOC children are suspended or expelled from preschool not just at higher rates than their white peers, but at higher rates than even K-12 students. Why? Implicit bias and hypervigilance. And in the last 7 years, the data hasn’t changed.

  • 2014-2015: Two public resources addressed the issue in the public imagination, namely an episode of Code Switch (2014) and an article in The Atlantic (2015), following discussion by then Attorney General Eric Holder and Secretary of Education Arne Duncan.
  • 2016: Glover mentioned the work of Dr. Walter Gilliam of Yale University in Saturday’s panel. In a brief news release from Yale, you can dig into the data a bit more.
  • 2017: The Office of Civil Rights Data’s Civil Rights Data Collection report on “Exclusionary Discipline” gives more comprehensive data P-12, including the stat that Black students are 18 percent of preschool enrollees, but 42% of disciplinary suspensions, and 38 percent of expulsions. 
  • 2020-ongoing: And yet, the research shows that even with knowledge, little has changed. What we do with information is as important as gathering it, so reflect, share, and advocate.