I'm just thinking right now. I have no firm convictions on this issue just yet.
Our Union President spoke at our high school recently and told us about Arne Duncan's alleged success in Chicago. It was made on the heels of urban renewal. You bulldoze old buildings, construct middle class housing, wait for the people to move in, AND THEN the standardized tests scores jump up. As most of us know, well prepared, appropriately behaved students will produce rising test scores. That seems like a no-brainer.
My thoughts drifted to what's happening in the LA area at this time. Charters are the big fad. Those of us who have spent time as educators are well versed on the pit-falls of charter schools - eroded safeguards, fewer benefits, etc. They are hardly a magic bullet of success and their records on academic results are not much different from those of regular public schools. Then again, ONE difference with charters is their ability to remove (or counsel out, or strategically de-select, whatever you call it) the students who are disruptive and uncooperative. That has some profound implications.
The students with behavior problems will eventually be tossed down to the bottom rung (regular public) schools which MUST take them no matter what. If things continue in this way certain public schools could end up becoming the place where no kid really wants to be. When that finally happens, we may end up with the missing ingredient of adolescent academic performance - MOTIVATION! We could finally develop something that's disappeared from the educational scene - A REAL THREAT with REAL CONSEQUENCES!
As things exist now in public education, the behavior problems in most schools rule the day and drag EVERYONE down with them. Parents (the source of the problems in most cases) whine and belly ache to admins who find it easiest to punish the teachers who simply try to create some order in their rooms so that learning can take place. A hierarchy of free education could lead us in the direction of "meritocracy" - Okay, I'm getting carried away just a bit. The bottom rung public schools would not be prisons; they would still be places of free public education (for future bed pan changers and enema tube holders
) The majority of students would be free to learn and excel. The ones who are relegated to the bottom rung could possibly be motivated to apply themselves and petition to move up to another school.
What about the teachers at the bottom schools? Give them "battle pay." They should be paid significantly more. It should be understood that a large part of their job is behavior modification.
How about that? What began as just another pity party tactic for youngsters who simply don't want to do anything they consider to be work - another attempt to blame and correct the teachers could end up functioning in a positive way. I'm just day dreaming. Time will tell.