ELC applauds Pennsylvania State Interagency Coordinating Council (SICC) for passing a resolution urging the Office of Child Development and Early Learning (OCDEL) to develop a comprehensive statewide policy banning the use of exclusionary discipline in all early learning programs across Pennsylvania.
The Resolution was a direct result of our work, in collaboration with the ACLU and our early intervention and early childhood partners, who pressed the SICC to take this action. In March, ELC Pittsburgh Director Nancy A. Hubley and ACLU Executive Director Harold Jordan presented to the SICC on the compelling state and national data and new Federal guidance to highlight the damage done through exclusionary discipline. ELC pressed the SICC and OCDEL to develop and implement new statewide, interagency policies to address the discriminatory use of exclusionary discipline in Pre-K programs. At the conclusion of the presentation, SICC members introduced the resolution, which was ultimately passed on June 2, 2016.
The Resolution recognizes that all young children deserve to be in inclusive, high quality early childhood programs. It further acknowledges that for this to occur it is imperative that our youngest learners are not being suspended, expelled, and otherwise excluded from the learning environment. This is particularly important given that young African American children and children receiving, or who are eligible to receive, special education and early intervention services are disproportionately pushed out of early learning programs. The Resolution calls for OCDEL to address race and disability as it continues to build accountability and professional capacity for early learning programs to serve all children.
ELC acknowledges the good work OCDEL is already doing to move in this direction, with increasing attention and development of interagency supports, accurate data collection systems, and race-positive, gender-specific, and trauma-informed professional development. OCDEL is convening multiple forums this summer to continue the conversation with key stakeholders to inform the development of a statewide policy that not only bans exclusionary discipline in Pre-K programs, but further develops and supports the inclusion of all students in early education programs.
As ELC continues this work to limit and eliminate the use of exclusionary discipline in early childhood settings, we also remain committed to raising and addressing these issues in other forums, including school districts and the General Assembly, to extend this ban to students in elementary school.