Last year 448 kindergartners were suspended from schools in the School District of Philadelphia (SDP). Last week, the School Reform Commission announced... that it has approved revisions to the Student Code of Conduct that will remove suspensions as punishment for Kindergarten students.
The Philadelphia ACE Task Force applauds this change which is based on a growing awareness in the SDP that many of the challenging behaviors that precipitate suspension of young children have their roots in exposure to trauma and toxic stress and there are other less punitive, more nurturing strategies that teachers and other educational staff can learn that address these behaviors and their underlying causes. In his statement regarding the change Superintendent William Hite says:
“We remain focused on academic achievement, children reading on grade level, and college and career readiness. The early years are most important and we need students in school. Studies show that more kindergarten suspensions lead to less opportunity for children to stay on grade level with their peers. The more time a child spends in school, the greater the likelihood they will read on grade level, not dropout, and graduate from high school.”
We further commend the SDP for working proactively to continue to put interventions in place that help early childhood teachers manage conflict and recognize trauma. We look forward to more system changes at SDP that prevent exposure to trauma and support children and families affected by trauma.