Thursday, August 7, 2014

This is what a "danger to the staff" looks like

Though I will admit that those scary turtle faces are intimidating.

Tunette Powell's two young sons kept getting suspended from preschool. She couldn't figure out what she was doing wrong until she started comparing notes with other parents.

My son has been suspended five times. He’s 3.

Just like before, I tried to find excuses. I looked at myself. What was I doing wrong? My children are living a comfortable life. My husband is an amazing father to JJ and Joah. At home, they have given us very few problems; the same goes for time with babysitters.

I blamed myself, my past. And I would have continued to blame myself had I not taken the boys to a birthday party for one of JJ’s classmates. At the party, the mothers congregated to talk about everyday parenting things, including preschool. As we talked, I admitted that JJ had been suspended three times. All of the mothers were shocked at the news.

“JJ?” one mother asked.

“My son threw something at a kid on purpose and the kid had to be rushed to the hospital,” another parent said. “All I got was a phone call.”

One after another, white mothers confessed the trouble their children had gotten into. Some of the behavior was similar to JJ’s; some was much worse.

Most startling: None of their children had been suspended.

After that party, I read a study reflecting everything I was living.

Black children represent 18 percent of preschool enrollment but make up 48 percent of preschool children receiving more than one out-of-school suspension, according to the study released by the  Education Department’s Office for Civil Rights in March.

The one on the right is the dangerous one.

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