Dr. Nadine Burke Harris, a pediatrician who Gov. Gavin Newsom appointed in January, is recognized as a pioneer in the study of how adverse childhood experiences affect brain development and life-long health.
The study found that students from Southeast Asian countries, like Vietnam and Cambodia, had suspension and expulsion rates that were 2 to 3 times higher than those from China, Japan and other East Asian countries.
A new bill proposed by state Sen. Nancy Skinner would ban out-of-school suspensions in all grades for student behavior deemed “defiant and disruptive” by school authorities. Advocates hopeful Gov. Newsom will be more receptive than Jerry Brown, who vetoed two previous bills.
A 2010 video clip of California senator and presidential hopeful Kamala Harris advocating the prosecution of parents for their children's truancy has re-ignited controversy as schools statewide face greater scrutiny for their rates of chronic absenteeism.
Behind the high suspension rates in rural areas are family struggles with poverty, mental illness, addiction and parental incarceration, a dearth of resources to address those needs and underfunded schools.