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U of M study: Higher elementary student suspension rates linked to a lack of alternatives

children sitting on floor
Steve Carmody
Michigan Radio

A new University of Michigan study finds African-American boys are three times as likely as whites to besuspended or expelled from school before the fourth grade.

The study suggests a lack of alternatives to suspending or expulsion may be a reason.

Researchers have been tracking nearly 2,500 children in 20 large cities.  

They found one in ten was suspended or expelled from school by the age of 9.

Doctoral student Garrett Pace says many factors contribute to a child having problems in school -- ranging from family instability to teacher biases.

He says there are alternatives to kicking kids out of school, but financially challenged school districts often don’t have the resources to implement them.

"More disadvantaged schools should be provided resources and training to use more inclusive disciplinary practices," says Pace. “More advantaged schools have more resources that allow them to implement alternatives to exclusionary discipline which drives down their suspension and expulsion rates.”

Pace says suspended students tend to display more aggressive behavior, like fighting, when they return to the school environment. He says that may complicate their ability to learn and stay in school. 

The study appears in the journal Social Forces.

Steve Carmody has been a reporter for Michigan Public since 2005. Steve previously worked at public radio and television stations in Florida, Oklahoma and Kentucky, and also has extensive experience in commercial broadcasting.
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