Thousands of preschoolers expelled due to lack of resources

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A recent study found that young children are being expelled from preschools and other childcare services at three times the rate of K-12 students throughout the country.

In 2016, more than 65,000 preschool-age children in the US were expelled. Dr. Walter Gilliam, a child development expert at Yale University, says that while the institution’s reasoning for the expulsion is commonly due to behavior, the real reason is lack of resources.

TED SIMONS: UP NEXT ON "ARIZONA HORIZON, WE WILL HEAR ABOUT INCREASE OF EXPULSION OF CHILDREN FROM PRESCHOOLS.

TED SIMONS: CHILDREN IN PRESCHOOLS ARE BEING EXPELLED AT THREE TIMES THE RATE AS K-12 STUDENTS. WHY IS THIS HAPPENING AND HOW DOES IT IMPACT THE KIDS AS WELL AS PARENTS AND TEACHERS INVOLVED? JOINING US NOW IS WALTER GILLIAM, A PROFESSOR IN THE YALE CHILD STUDY CENTER AND ALISON STEIER OF SOUTHWEST HUMAN DEVELOPMENT, ARIZONA’S LARGEST NON-PROFIT DEDICATED TO EARLY CHILDHOOD DEVELOPMENT. GOOD TO HAVE YOU BOTH HERE. THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR JOINING US. THREE TIMES THE RATE THAN K-12 STUDENTS. WHY?

WALTHER GILLIAM: THAT'S AMAZING ISN’T IT? HARD FOR A LOT OF PEOPLE TO EVEN BELIEVE THIS CAN HAPPEN AT ALL. NONETHELESS THREE TIMES THE RATE. AND THAT’S THREE TIMES THE RATE WHEN WE’RE TALKING ABOUT PRESCHOOL PROGRAMS RAN BY STATE DEPARTMENTS OF EDUCATION, BUT WHEN YOU TALK ABOUT CHILD CARE PROGRAMS. 13 TIMES THE RATE OF GRADES K-12 COMBINED. MATTER OF FACT, THERE WAS A RECENT STUDY DONE OUT OF THE BUREAU OF MATERNAL AND CHILD HEALTH IN THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT THAT SHOWED 65,000 PRESCHOOL CHILDREN EXPELLED OR SUSPENDED IN 2016 ALONE.

TED SIMONS: WHY?

WALTHER GILLIAM: THAT’S A GREAT QUESTION. IT COULD BE A WHOLE LOT OF DIFFERENT THINGS. BUT USUALLY WHAT IT BOILS DOWN TO IS THE DECISION THAT PROGRAM HAS, THAT IT DOESN’T HAVE RESOURCES IT NEED IN ORDER TO MEET THE NEED OF THAT CHILD. SOME OF TIME THE CHILD MIGHT COME WITH SOME CHALLENGING BEHAVIORS. SOMETIMES THE CHILD IS JUST COMING AS A CHILD. I MEAN IT’S JUST NORAML CHILD BEHAVIORS. THE PROGRAM IS JUST SO UNDER RESOURCED THAT THEY DON'T FEEL THEY CAN MEET THAT CHILD’S NEEDS.

TED SIMONS: I WAS GOING TO SAY, I HEARD NORMAL CHILD BEHAVIOR. AT WHAT POINT DOES NORMAL CHILD BEHAVIOR, WHICH CAN HAVE YOUR OCCASIONAL TANTRUM FROM THESE YOUNG FOLKS, WHEN IS THAT BECOME SUCH A PROBLEM THAT SUSPENSION AND EXPULSION IS THE CHOICE? HOW DO YOU HANDLE THE SITUATION?

ALISON STEIER: WE WOULD SAY IN MY FIELD OF EARLY CHILDHOOD DEVELOPMENT AND MENTAL HEALTH THAT WE ARE ALWAYS TRYING TO UNDERSTAND CHILDREN'S BEHAVIOR. SO THERE ARE CERTAIN BEHAVIORS THAT ARE COMMON. THEY’RE NOT ALWAYS JOYOUS FOR ADULTS TO MANAGE OR TO BE AROUND. BUT THEIR COMMON IN CHILDHOOD. THERE’S A PERIOD OF DEVELOPMENT IN TODDLERHOOD WHERE A LOT OF KIDS ARE BITING. IT'S UP TO THE ADULTS TO TRY TO FIGURE OUT, WHAT IS THAT ABOUT? IS THIS GOING TO BE A TRANSIENT THING OR DO WE NEED TO LEAN IN AND TRY TO FIGURE OUT WHAT THAT IS. THAT'S THE TASK HERE FOR ADULT TO SAY LEAN IN AND TRY TO FIGURE OUT WHAT GOING ON FOR A CHILD.

TED SIMONS: IT SOUNDS LIKE THESE EXPULSIONS ARE INCREASING. ARE ADULTS INCREASINGLY LOSING PATIENCE, NOT UNDERSTANDING. WHY DOES THIS SEEM TO BE HAPPENING? KIDS HAVE BEEN KIDS FOR A LONG TIME.

ALISON STEIER: THAT'S TRUE. I THINK PART OF IT IS THAT WE ARE JUST FINDING OUT ABOUT THIS PHENOMENON. AND DR.WALTER GILLIAM'S WORK, FIRST WORK THAT HAS REALLY SHED LIGHT ON THAT. I THINK DR. GILLIAM HAS DELIVERED THE BAD NEWS WHICH IS THAT THIS PHENONENON IS OCCURRING AT A HIGH RATE. AND THE GOOD NEWS WHICH IS THAT THERE ARE THINGS WE CAN DO ABOUT IT TO PREVENT EXPULSIONS.

TED SIMONS: YOUR STUDY ALSO SHOWS THAT AMONG AFRICAN-AMERICAN KIDS, 47% OF EXPELLED WERE AFRICAN-AMERICAN DESPITE ONLY 18, 19% SOMETHING ALONG THOSE LINES OF PRESCHOOL ENROLLMENT. WHAT'S GOING ON WITH THAT?

WALTHER GILLIAM: ACTUALLY THOSE DATA WERE FROM WAS FROM U.S. DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION OFFICE FOR CIVIL RIGHTS. SO THEY STARTED COLLECTING DATA ON THAT FOLLOWING THE STUDY THAT WE HAD PUT OUT AND THEY FOUND THE SAME KIND OF RACIAL OR GENDER DISPARITIES THAT WE FOUND BUT IN THEIR STUDY, THEY FOUND IT WAS EVEN WORSE THAN WHAT EARLIER ESTIMATED. WE’RE STARTING TO DO SOME MORE RESEARCH NOW TO UNDERSTAND A LITTLE BIT MORE WHAT'S BEHIND THAT. SOME OF THAT RESEARCH HAS TAKEN US TOWARDS LOOKING AT IMPLICIT BIAS. WE DID A STUDY JUST RECENTLY WHERE WE USED EYE TRACKING TECHNOLOGY. VERY HIGH-END TECHNOLOGY TO TRACK EXACTLY WHERE A PRESCHOOLTEACHER IS LOOKING ON THE SCREEN. DOWN TO THE PIXELS AND DOWN TO THE MILISECOND. SHOW THEM A VIDEO OF TYPICAL PRESCHOOLERS IN A CLASSROOM AND TOLD THEM THEIR JOB IS TO FIND THE CHILD THAT IS GOING TO HAVE THOSE BEHAVIORS. BUT WHAT WE DIDN’T TELL THEM THAT THEY ARE ALL CHILD ACTORS.
WALTHER GILLIAM: WHAT WE ARE REALLY LOOKING FOR IS WHERE DO YOU LOOK? THE CHILDREN IN THE VIDEO, HALF OF THEM BLACK, HALF OF THEM WHITE, HALF OF THEM BOYS, HALF OF THEM GIRLS. AND BASICALLY WHEN TEACHERS ARE PRIME TO EXPECT A CHILD TO MIS-BEHAVE, THEY LOOK MORE AT THE BLACK CHILD THE ESPECIALLY BLACK BOY. AND IF YOU ARE MOSTLY LOOKING FOR CHALLENGING BEHAVIORS WITH ONE PARTICULAR GROUP OF CHILDREN, THAT'S WHERE YOU ARE GOING TO FIND IT.

TED SIMONS: AND WE SHOULD MENTION THIS IMPLICIT BIASIN THESE STUDIES IT INVOLVES EVEN AFRICAN-AMERICAN TEACHERS.

WALTHER GILLIAM: INDEED.

TED SIMONS: AND THEY HOLD THESE KIDS TO HIGHER STANDARD AS WELL.

WALTHER GILLIAM: INDEED. WHILE OUR AFRICAN AMERICAN TEACHERS AND OUR WHITE TEACHERS ARE EXPOSED TO EXACT SAME MEDIA IMAGES, THE EXACT SAME SOCIETY THAT BASICALLY GIVES US LOTS OF LOTS OF IMAGES AND REASONS TO IMAGINE THAT BLACK CHILDREN WILL GROW INTO BLACK MEN WHO HAVE MORE BEHAVIORAL CHALLENGES. AND SO THAT GETS PEGGED ONTO THESE CHILDREN AT AN ALARMINGLY YOUNG AGE.

TED SIMONS: OK, WE’RE GOING TO DO THE BAD NEW GOOD NEWS THING AGAIN HERE NOW.

ALISON STEIER: I GET TO DELIVER THE GOOD NEWS.

TED SIMONS: THE GOOD NEWS, OK. HOW DO WE KEEP THESE NUMBERS-HOW DO WE TURN BACK THESE NUMBERS- WHAT CAN BE DONE-ESPECIALLY WHEN YOUR FACED WITH THE SITUATION OF A TROUBLESOME CHILD?

ALISON STEIER: FIRST THING IS WE WOULD LIKE CHILD CARE PROVIDERS AND FAMILIES TO HAVE GOOD RELATIONSHIPS WITH EACH OTHER. THOSE CHILDREN EVEN WHEN THEY ARE BEHAVIOR IS CHALLENGING OR LESS LIKELY TO BE EXPELLED, WHEN THE FAMILY IS KNOWN TO THE CENTER AND WHEN THERE IS A GOOD RELATIONSHIP, FROM THE BEGINNING ITS ADVISABLE, ITS THE BEST THING IF YOU CAN CREATE GOOD RELATIONSHIPS BETWEEN FAMILIES AND CARE PROVIDERS. WHEN KIDS START TO SHOW CHALLENGES OR CARE PROVIDERS FEEL LIKE IT'S BEYOND THEIR CAPACITY TO HELP A CHILD, WE IN ARIZONA ARE ACTUALLY LUCKY ENOUGH TO HAVE A STATEWIDE MENTAL HEALTH CONSULTATION PROGRAM. WE CAN ACTUALLY PARTNER A MASTER'S LEVEL MENTAL HEALTH PROFESSIONAL WITH TEACHERS AND CHILD CARE PROVIDERS SO THEY CAN THINK TOGETHER ABOUT WHAT MIGHT BE GOING ON FOR A CHILD AND HOW TO ADDRESS THEIR BEHAVIOR.

TED SIMONS: AND LAST QUESTION HERE. THE IMPACT OF THESE SUSPENSIONS AND EXPULSIONS ON THESE KIDS, WHAT HAPPENS LATER IN LIFE?

WALTHER GILLIAM: WE KNOW THAT CHILDREN WHO ARE EXPELLED OR SUSPENDED EARLY ON IN EARLY GRADES ARE TEN TIMES MORE LIKELY TO BE SUSPENDED OR EXPELLED LATER. TEN TIMES MORE LIKELY TO DROP OUT OF HIGH SCHOOL. AND SO WHAT WE DO WITH THESE YOUNG CHILDREN SETS THE ENTIRE TRAJECTORY OF THEIR EDUCATIONAL EXPERIENCES. BUT FORTUNATELY, LIKE STEIER JUST SAID, THERE ARE SOLUTIONS. VERY FORTUNATELY FOR ARIZONA, YOU GOT ONE OF BETTER ONES IN THE NATION RIGHT HERE IN THE UNITED STATES.

TED SIMONS: TED SIMONS: ALL RIGHT, WELL THAT'S ENCOURAGING. WE WILL END ON GOOD NEWS PART, HOW IS THAT? THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR JOINING US.

WALTHER GILLIAM: THANK YOU.

ALISON STEIER: THANK YOU.

Walter Gilliam: Professor, Yale Child Study Center

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