Texas: Call to stop suspending preK kids with behavior problems

April 25, 2018, Austin (TX) American Statesman: Commentary: Help pre-K kids manage feelings instead of suspending them What about the four-year-old who tears posters off the classroom wall? Or the pre-K student who threw his shoes? Those are two of the responses we’ve received to our report about the 101,000 times Texas school districts suspended students in pre-K through second grade in a single year. … Instead of issuing lots of suspensions to little kids, some districts are working on keeping their 4-year-olds or 6-year-olds from getting so upset that their little shoes start flying. They are working on responding in a way that prevents the next meltdown. To reach these goals, districts are providing more counseling to kids, implementing effective models like Positive Behavioral Interventions and Support, restorative justice, and training teachers on social and emotional learning. Issuing suspensions does nothing to teach little kids how to manage big emotions. It doesn’t address other factors – such as a student’s disability or a teacher’s need for new classroom-management strategies – that can lead to challenging behavior. … On the other hand, Jasper ISD issued a shocking 80 suspensions to its cohort of 122 pre-K students — and Killeen ISD meted out a stunning 1,460 suspensions to a pre-K enrollment of 3,423 students, according to TEA data on the 2015-16 school year. In fact, Killeen had less than 2 percent of the state’s pre-K kids, but 31 percent of the state’s pre-K suspensions.