When Booting Out 'Bad' Kids Wastes Their Potential

"While dumping problem students from your books like a subprime loan is effective business management," writes The Root's contributing editor Natalie Hopkinson at The Root DC, "it's also a deeply unethical way to operate a system of public education."

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"While dumping problem students from your books like a subprime loan is effective business management," writes The Root's contributing editor Natalie Hopkinson at The Root DC, "it's also a deeply unethical way to operate a system of public education."

... To many, this is the point of choice: Schools need the "freedom" to boot out "bad" children who are messing up the classroom environment for everyone else. And there's no question that expulsions are the most expedient way to manage classrooms filled with kids from all over the city, each with dramatically different backgrounds, ability levels and educational histories. Hiring counselors and other support staff for high-needs children (which J.'s school did not have) is expensive. Setting up behavior-modification plans takes time. Everyone is under pressure and on the clock to deliver testing results and keep "good" families from fleeing.

While dumping problem students from your books like a subprime loan is effective business management, it's also a deeply unethical way to operate a system of public education. Any school operator who comes into D.C. should expect for nearly three of every four children walking through their door to live in poverty and for nearly every two in five to be diagnosed with learning or language challenges. You should expect to serve kids who have been bouncing around multiple schools, often coming from unimaginable home circumstances.

If you accept the challenge and run out of ideas, that is not the child's failure; it's yours. And when taxpayers pay for these phantom students that stay just long enough to be counted for their per-pupil allotment paid to the school, it amounts to fraud.

Read Natalie Hopkinson's entire piece at The Root DC.

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