AASD Policy Brief Seeks to Improve Early Education Outcomes for African-American Boys

Dr. Oscar Barbarin, chair of the Department of African American Studies, has been involved in research on early childhood programs with a specific emphasis on reductions in achievement gaps and socio-emotional adjustment of African-American boys.

He recently published findings from these efforts, in the form of a policy brief, “Eliminate Suspensions and Expulsions of Young Children through Training for Child Care Staff and Early Childhood Teachers.” The brief was co-written with Jennifer Hoffman of the Prince George’s Child Resource Center.

Through direct observations of multiple preschool classrooms across the country, Barbarin has found a systemic pattern of disparate discipline which is adversely affected African-American boys, and has often led to their exclusion from early childhood programming.

Disparate discipline is evidenced in the disproportionately high rates of suspensions and expulsions of African-American boys from early childhood classrooms.

“Despite the fact that this issue came to light as early as 2005, little progress has been made in moderating the adverse impact these disciplinary actions have on African-American boys,” Barbarin said.

Across the country, state legislatures are considering an outright ban on suspensions and expulsions. In a recent policy briefing, Barbarin said such legislation deserves support.

“However, if such a ban is to be an effective public policy, it must be associated with efforts to support teachers and parents as boys gain in the ability to self-regulate their behavior,” Barbarin said.

Read the Policy Brief