"We can't teach every child because Clarence is a terror," he pleaded to the discipline committee. "He disrupts the environment."
But the CEO of the charter school network balked. "Terror? He's a 9th-grader who got into a fight. What about the bottom line? We don't get rid of kids for childish behavior. We teach them."
The CEO, who like the principal, was a black man with a Ph.D added: "You know what happens to boys who are expelled. They're out of school with nothing constructive to do. Eventually they see judges…This about giving kids a chance."
This exchange described in "The Garden Path: The Miseducation of a City" written by Andre M. Perry, was fictional. But as revelations about mass expulsions at D.C. charter schools revealed, how to discipline is one of the realest, toughest calls reforming schools have to make.
Tuesday, Perry comes to town to share his experiences as an insider at Howard University's Carnegie Lecture Hall during a luncheon talk: "Reclaiming Community = Reclaiming Education Reform." I urge anyone who is interested in education reform and what the future of a majority charter system looks like to check out Perry's speech and his book. Perry, who earned his doctorate from the University of Maryland-College Park, is the former CEO of New Orleans' Capital One-New Beginnings Charter School Network, which emerged after Hurricane Katrina.
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Natalie Hopkinson is a Washington, D.C.-based author whose current projects deal with the arts, gender and public life. She is the author of Go-Go Live: The Musical Life and Death of a Chocolate City. Follow her on Twitter.