Kids causing trouble in school means suspensions, even expulsions. In generations past, urban schools would bring images of the “Blackboard Jungle” where street hardened juveniles with switchblades ruled the hallways teachers dared tread.
These days, statistically, violence in schools is down. But then why are suspensions and expulsions up? Michigan is near the front of the pack regarding suspension counts, and studies show African Americans are being suspended far more than their Caucasian counterparts.
Remarkably, 113 Michigan children in Pre-K, younger than five-years-old, had been suspended in just one recent year, according to US Department of Education data.
Do suspensions help make better students? Suspensions in high school, even middle school is one thing, but in elementary school, even kindergarten? Studies show suspensions increase the odds significantly that a student will drop out. And what then, a life of crime? Sociologists cite the suspensions are the start of what’s being called the “School-to-Prison Pipeline”. With suspensions dipping as young as kindergarten, others suggest more of a “Cradle-to-Prison” scenario.
Nationwide, some are trying to change suspension policies. Just this month, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie signed a bill in that state banning suspensions of students up to the second grade.
Detroit Public TV, a Detroit Journalism Cooperative partner, looks at the future of one student suspended multiple times and what’s being done to change policies concerning suspensions in Michigan schools. –