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Prekindergarten Suspensions

March 27, 2014

The lead editorial in today’s NYTimes, “Giving Up on 4 Year Olds”, expresses dismay over the recent report noting the high suspension rates for minorities in prekindergarten, particularly minorities with disabilities. Anyone who knows even a little about child development and reads about the politicians vision for prekindergarten could see this crisis coming: expecting antsy four year olds to begin working on academics so that they will be “ready for school” (or more accurately, ready for tests) is misguided and unrealistic. My comment to the article summarizes my thinking on the wrongheadedness of this concept of prekindergarten:

What gets measured beginning in 3rd grade has an effect on how business is conducted in earlier grade levels— including prekindergarten. Duncan and Obama seem to envision prekindergarten as the first step in getting students ready to pass standardized tests once they get to be in third grade. This results in a misguided focus on “academics”, turning what should be a nurturing and exploratory experience into one that is regimented and focused. When students’ innate desire to explore and inquire is stifled it is not surprising that they “misbehave” and when they are herded into large classes that “misbehavior” needs to be “dealt with firmly”. Suspension is the ultimate penalty for repeated “misbehavior”.

 

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