Youngest Students Most Likely to Be Expelled
Preschoolers' Self-Esteem at Risk, Study Says
By Michael Dobbs
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, May 17, 2005; Page A02
Preschools are expelling youngsters at three times the rate of public schools, according to a nationwide study by Yale researchers, prompting concerns that children are being set up for educational failure at a very young age.
The first nationwide study of expulsion rates in state-supported preschools, scheduled for release today, found that boys are being thrown out of preschool 4 1/2 times as frequently as girls. African American preschoolers are twice as likely to be expelled as white or Latino children, and five times as likely as Asian Americans. Twice as many 5-year-olds face the ultimate sanction for bad behavior as 4-year-olds.
"These 3- and 4-year-olds are barely out of diapers," said Walter Gilliam, an assistant professor of child psychiatry and psychology at Yale University and author of the report "Prekindergarteners Left Behind." He said the lack of support for troubled youngsters could lead parents to "view their child as an educational failure well before kindergarten."
Los Angeles-based child development expert Karen Hill-Scott said the study provided scientific validation for the impression conveyed by the popular television show "Supernanny" "that there are a lot of out-of-control children out there." But she and other experts put much of the blame for the high expulsion rate on teachers and administrators rather than on children.
Child-care experts said that many expulsions could be avoided with better teacher training and greater support from psychologists and social workers. They noted that most states spend less than $5,000 a year per preschooler, compared with average per-pupil spending of more than $9,500 for other students.