Analysis: Suspensions in early elementary grades going up across Colorado

Suspensions in Colorado elementary schools are going up despite efforts to bring the numbers down due to concerns about the impact of harsh discipline on younger children. 

Chalkbeat analyzed three years of data detailing suspensions at Colorado schools and some of the results were startling. 

“Some rural districts do not suspend any students at all, but the highest suspending districts in the state are rural,” Chalkbeat’s Anne Schimke told Anne Trujillo on this week’s Politics Unplugged. “A lot of teachers feel they don’t have the tools to handle challenging behavior so suspension is often what they feel they have available as a last resort.”

Among Chalkbeat’s findings: 86 percent of suspensions in the Kindergarten, first and second grades are given to boys. There are also big disparities for black and Hispanics.

As to the reasons why these disparities exist, Corrine Rivera-Fowler, policy director at the Denver-based advocacy organization Padres & Jóvenes Unidos, points to a study on racial bias in early childhood from the Yale School of Education last year.

“Teachers may not have the cultural training to attend to a student’s needs,” she said.  “And they see black boys who can be larger in size, louder than white or female counterparts and they see them as a threat really.”

You can read the full report from Chalkbeat online.

Politics Unplugged airs Sundays at 4:30 a.m. and 4 p.m. on Denver7.

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