By: Krystle Crossman
Tunette Powell has two wonderful little boys. JJ is 4 and Joah is 3. They are normal kids who love to play and sometimes get a little too rough. When they do this at home they are punished accordingly and then life moves on. When they act out in school however, Powell gets a call from the school that she needs to come pick them up because they have been suspended.
The first time that JJ was suspended it was for throwing a chair. It didn’t hit anyone but they still felt that suspension was necessary. Powell agreed that the behavior was inappropriate but she thought that punishment was a little extreme. After this incident it seemed like the teachers had it out for JJ. He threw a chair again and was again suspended. Then there was an incident where he spit on a child that was bothering him during breakfast and yet again he was given a suspension. Powell felt that these punishments were not right but she herself had been a bad kid and had been expelled from preschool so she kept quiet. She said that it was hard because she remembered that everyone told her that she was a bad kid and she believed it. It took her a long time to realize that she wasn’t that bad of a kid.
Two months after these incidents with JJ she received a call about her son Joah. She needed to come pick him up because he was suspended. The three-year-old had hit a teacher on the arm and they now said that he was a danger to the staff. He ended up being suspended five times that year. Powell began to blame herself thinking that it was something that she was doing until she was speaking with other mothers. They were all shocked to hear that JJ had been suspended. Their children had done things that were similar to JJ’s incidents but all they received from the school was a phone call letting them know about the behavior and no suspension.
This unfortunately is a common occurrence in schools all over the country. Black children make up a total of 18% of the preschool population and yet make up 48% of children who are suspended. Powell says it is not because the teachers are racist but they have prejudices that they don’t think about, just like so many people do. Powell makes sure that she lets her children know that they are not bad children. She doesn’t want them to grow up thinking that they are and thinking that they can’t do any better.