On Three-Year-Old Thugs

Abby Zimet

Dispiriting new statistics from our supposedly post-racial America show that over half of all toddlers suspended from pre-K programs are black - wait, toddlers are suspended from pre-school? - though they make up just 18% of the kids in those programs, suggesting the famed “school-to-prison pipeline” begins so early some of its victims are still in diapers. The study by the Department of Education’s Civil Rights division, the first in 15 years and based on findings from all the country’s 97,000 public schools, didn't track kids' so-called offenses. But earlier research has showed white students get suspended for “observable offenses” such as fighting or obscenity, while black students ones are suspended for “less objective offenses” like “disrespect, noisiness, or defiance." By then they're already plunging into the well-documented "fourth grade failure syndrome," wherein black male students begin to lag in school as teachers see them increasingly as thug wannabees - a problem perfectly, depressingly illustrated by a  recent video posting by Nebraska cops showing a baby in diapers throwing a tantrum and giving a finger as black guys encourage him, all of which the police say shows "the terrible cycle of violence and thuggery” by black people, because a two-year-old in diapers who has no idea what he's saying is clearly headed for the slammer by the time he's three, and that has nothing to do with racist assumptions about young black males or what one advocate calls their "powerful legacy of discrimination, segregation and economic disenfranchisement," right? Yeah, just keep throwing those babies out of pre-K. That'll help a lot.

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