Protecting, Strengthening, and Reforming Our Public Education System: Blocking the School-to-Prison Pipeline

HB 425 bans the suspension of kids in pre-kindergarten through second grade, except in extreme or extraordinary circumstances. A priority of Legislative Black Caucus, ACLU, disability rights advocates(several coalitions and groups that I often collaborate with and support) we came together to pass this bill and further ensure equity and justice in all students’ educational journeys.

The children affected by this legislation do not understand the reasons they have been suspended and quickly fall behind when they are out of school. We also know that African-American children are suspended more often than other children – as black children make up only 18% of preschoolers but account for 48% of pre-school suspensions.   It is unacceptable to have young black children so disproportionately punished.   Studies have shown that suspensions at a young age can set off a downward spiral leading to students’ failing academically, dropping out of school and being incarcerated.

Pre-K suspension is an offensive attempt to solve a complicated problem with a seemingly easy solution, and it does much more harm than good.   Together, we took a stand that we would end the school-to prison pipeline too often linked to the disproportionate number of pre-K, black children suspended or expelled from school.  I am pleased to report that this bill is on its way to the Governor’s office.