CAS Statement on US Education Department Report on Student Suspension
Statement by Bill Weisberg, Interim CEO, The Children’s Aid Society
A report released today by the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) starkly shows that for far too many children in the United States, the opportunity gap still exists – and that these disparities are reflected as early as pre-school. Of particular concern is the disproportionate numbers boys of color being suspended in pre-school and the numbers of young children who do not have access to high-quality pre-school programs. At the Children’s Aid Society our mission is to put children living in poverty on the path to educational success by providing them with the comprehensive supports – from cradle through college – that they need to thrive. Early childhood programs and community schools are a critical part of our strategy.
Our 12 early childhood programs have demonstrated that they prepare children for kindergarten through high-quality programming and by working closely with families. The suspension rate in our early childhood programs is 0% because we are focused on preparing children for school by helping them gain the tools they need to be successful in school. When a child acts out, we engage a team that includes professional staff and family members to find the right intervention to ensure that child's success. When all else fails, we refer the child to another program that is best able to address his needs. Suspension is not a part of the equation.
Our 16 community schools, which provide expanded learning opportunities, health care and parent engagement programs, have consistently shown positive results in academic achievement as well as positive school climate and school safety. In addition, preliminary findings from five community schools showed a reduction in inappropriate special education referrals.
At Children's Aid, we are committed to continuing to work with families and community partners to provide the supports to make sure that every child succeeds.