Expulsion is NOT the Answer

April 12, 2019

Posted By
E3 Elevate Early Education


Everyday early educators work with children who exhibit behaviors that are difficult to deal with. Our early childhood programs and teachers are struggling to meet the needs of children who have disabilities, mental health issues, challenging behavior and social-emotional skills that are still being developed.

Did you know that?:

  • Children in Pre-k are expelled at over 3x the rate of K-12 students.
  • 250 children are expelled or suspended from preschool each day on average.
  • Most of the children expelled from preschool are from low-income families, are children of color or have disabilities.
  • Boys and African Americans are 2x more likely to be suspended or expelled.

Research clearly states that ALL children benefit from high quality early learning. Sadly, the children who need early education the most are being suspended or expelled at higher rates than their peers.  Kicking young children out of preschools and elementary schools is not the answer. Suspension and expulsion sets children up for failure not success. The goal of early education is to create a preschool to workforce pipeline, not a preschool to prison pipeline.

Our goal should be to prepare ALL children for success and to help families navigate the system of evaluation and intervention services to get the help they need.

Rather than suspending or expelling young children from preschool, we need to:

  • Address mental health issues as early as possible and refer families to appropriate services.
  • Assess the needs of young children and provide support to help them develop their social and emotional skills before they enter kindergarten.
  • Invest in our teachers and provide professional development that equips them with the tools they need to work with children who have behavioral issues or special needs.
  • Provide evidence-based curriculum with social-emotional development strategies.

Virginia is moving in the right direction. Governor Northam addressed the issue of pre-k through third grade expulsion in 2018, but there is still work to do. We must continue to make this a priority!

Lisa Howard

President & CEO

E3: Elevate Early Education & The New E3 School







Gilliam W. Ph.D., (2008) Implementing Policies to Reduce the Likelihood of Preschool Expulsion.  (Policy brief 7). https://medicine.yale.edu/childstudy/zigler/publications/PreKExpulsionBrief2_34.

Malik, Rasheed. “New Data Reveal 250 Preschoolers Are Suspended or Expelled Every Day.” Center for American Progress. https://www.americanprogress.org/issues/earlychildhood/news/2017/11/06/442280/new-data-reveal-250-preschoolers (November 6, 2017).

“Policy Statement on Expulsion and Suspension Policies in Early Childhood Settings.” U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. U.S. Department of Education. 2016 National Survey of Child Health.