It Starts Early: Black Preschoolers Suspended at Much Higher Rate Than Whites

The same gap seen in incarceration and graduation rates also appears at the preschool level.

Across institutions, economic indicators and rates of crime, racial gaps abound. Now, new data from the US Department of Education reveals that unequal treatment can begin as early as preschool. 

Of the 8,000 toddlers suspended from preschool in 2011--a surreal figure in and of itself--roughly 45 percent of them were black and 26 percent were white, even though rates of enrollment were nearly the reverse. Latino children were also suspended at a higher rate to whites relative to their enrollment.

This sort of pattern continues later on in school. Across all K-12 schools, black students represented 16 percent of the student population but 42 percent were suspended more than once during the 2011-2012 school year. 

The Office for Civil Rights Data Collection report also reveals a number of long standing disparities within the education system, including unequal access to experienced educators and advanced courses in schools that serve students of color. It can be read in full here.


Aaron Cantú is an investigator for the Marijuana Arrest Research Project and an independent journalist based in Brooklyn. Follow him on Twitter @aaronmiguel_
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