Conversations at the Capitol
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“It’s clear that we have a problem. We have a well-built pre-K to prison pipeline that we must dismantle,” Amy Eelkema Baxter told the House Early Childhood Finance and Policy Division Thursday. HF1785, as amended, would aim to do that by prohibiting the suspension or expulsion of any child enrolled in a prekindergarten program.
The bill, sponsored by Rep. Ruth Richardson (DFL-Mendota Heights), was held over by the division for possible omnibus bill inclusion. The companion, SF1874, sponsored by Sen. Susan Kent (DFL-Woodbury), awaits action by the Senate E-12 Finance and Policy Committee.
The proposal would modify the Pupil Fair Dismissal Act, which applies to public school students in kindergarten through grade 12, to also include prekindergarten students. Program administrators and teachers would still have the ability to remove a child from class temporarily to handle an issue.
Citing data from the National Survey of Children’s Health, Richardson said that in 2016, an estimated 50,000 preschoolers were suspended at least once. Another 17,000 were expelled from preschool programs across the United States.
“Students in preschool are three times more likely to be suspended then youth in grades K-12,” she said. “We also know that these dismissals are dis-proportionally impacting students with disabilities and students of color.”
About Create Opportunity 2020: The mission of Create Opportunity 2020 is to empower women changing the world with their words and actions. Our goal is to engage, educate and increase the participation of women of color in the 2020 election. In 2018 we convened organizations dedicated to African American women in Minnesota, a state facing the greatest disparities in education, home ownership and income. Beginning in 2019, we are hosting conversations in person and online with elected officials, administrators, educators, business leaders and parents to inform pending legislation impacting the African American community. To learn more about the disparities facing Minnesota, visit https://www.mncompass.org/disparities/overview
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