Parent trigger and charters: As we offer more school choice, what happens to children left behind?

grabarart0920Shanna Miles is an educator and a parent working in the metro Atlanta area. An avid literacy advocate, she lobbies to ensure that every child has access to a free and public library in a community.

She wrote this piece for the Monday print AJC education op-ed page.

By Shanna Miles

In the 1840s, Irish Catholic parents lobbied for local control of schools so that their children wouldn’t be indoctrinated by a Protestant curriculum.

In 1957, President Dwight Eisenhower had to call in the National Guard to lead nine African-American children past a picket line of angry white parents who were outraged that their school was to be integrated.

Fast-forward a half-century or so, and the war between government and parents still rages with the passage of Amendment 1 and the introduction of the “Parent Trigger” charter bill. Now winding its way through the Legislature, House Bill 123 would allow parents and teachers to force a local school board to consider their petition to change their traditional public school into a charter school.

On the surface, the question seems to be, who should have control of the schools — parents or the government? But on closer inspection, another much deeper question arises: Whose responsibility is it to educate a child — society’s or the parent’s?

Business needs an educated workforce to ensure efficiency and profit. Governments need working citizens to pay taxes. Parents need their children to be educated so that they can feed, clothe and shelter themselves. It seems that everyone is on the same page, but there is a problem.

Free will.

We forget that education is compulsory by law. Even children who are not willing to learn — because their basic needs are not being met, they don’t like the curriculum, or they just don’t want to sit still for hours on end — are forced to be in school. And these students are corralled into classrooms, placed next to eager children, and set before a teacher who is charged with being not only educator, but a warden.

What was once a classroom has now become a prison.

Schools, limited by federal and state funding, are becoming increasingly ill-equipped to serve students who need mental health services, stable housing or intense remediation — all of which are not, and some argue cannot be, provided by the schools. Is it any wonder that parents and teachers want out of this situation?

So a solution is proposed, a panacea for those weary of the policy debates and federal mandates and endless arguments on the school board and Senate floors: the charter school, the ultimate opt-out.

With it, parents and teachers can create “safe havens” where only those students whose parents are willing to volunteer, submit to additional testing and adhere to a longer school day, and who are able to provide their own transportation, uniforms, textbooks, lunch, whatever, are able to attend. In essence, a charter school is a place where all parents, if not students, think exactly alike.

But what of the school with the students who are left behind?

It becomes a sanitarium, and the educational landscape devolves into a state of plague, where the most vulnerable students are quarantined into even more poorly funded “sick houses” as those with options huddle behind the iron gates of entrance requirements and parent covenants.

Are we forgetting that the kids left behind will grow up? Then what?

Do we build larger prisons? Upgrade our neighborhood security gates to include an armed guard?

We all want education; the “public” part is what most of us don’t like. But we don’t live on an island, and we can’t sail away from difficult people and difficult issues. As adults, we don’t get to opt out.

As HB 123 works its way through the legislative process, all of us need to decide whether we’re going to lobby as responsible members of a collective society, or cower like citizens under siege.

–from Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog

113 comments Add your comment

Home-tutoring parent

February 19th, 2013
4:30 am

Wow! I mean, this is flabbergasting.

Beverly Fraud

February 19th, 2013
4:55 am

“With it, parents and teachers can create “safe havens”…”

How horrible; parent and teachers, after being failed and failed again by the public school bureaucracy, want to be in schools where the children are actually safe! The nerve of these people.

Beverly Fraud

February 19th, 2013
5:02 am

Are we forgetting that the kids left behind will grow up? Then what?

Do we build larger prisons? Upgrade our neighborhood security gates to include an armed guard?

Umm Sarah; did you ever consider the possibility of restoring discipline in those schools? So they might learn the rule of law, learn to socialize in acceptable ways in school, before they have to learn it in prison?

Or would you rather continue to hold well meaning parents and their well behaved children hostage to a dysfunctional educational monolith that time and time again has displayed a lack of integrity towards children?


Beverly Fraud

February 19th, 2013
5:07 am

“As HB 123 works its way through the legislative process, all of us need to decide whether we’re going to lobby as responsible members of a collective society, or cower like citizens under siege.”

Umm Sarah, when you are under siege by the likes of Eugene Walker, by the likes Crawford Lewis, Arne Duncan, RTTT and other such assaults, the responsible thing is to act like your under siege and protect yourself accordingly.

It’s just too bad that those offering the refuge (Amendment 1, HB 123) are acting more like Somali pirates than true protectors.

Home-tutoring parent

February 19th, 2013
5:12 am

I was a criminal in my youth. This guy, Randy, got me into shoplifting. I got caught. Not by the store employees, they were obtuse. By my mom, who realized I couldn’t possibly afford the “lot” I had in my room. So, we went to the stores, I confessed to store managers, and used my work-earnings to make restitution. I didn’t rat on Randy, but we parted ways.

Was school “prison” for us? In retrospect, probably. In 7th grade I was in “gifted” classes, but I signed up for metal shop. The teacher told me I needed to be in 8th grade shop, and so my entire schedule was re-done, and I was put into “dummies” classes. Wow!

My oldest son was judged to be “okay, not very good” in math, his younger brother was deemed “math incompetent”. I took them home for a different kind of teaching. You can’t get an 800 SAT II Level IIC unless you are mathematically pretty competent.


February 19th, 2013
5:40 am

The public school system in GA for the most part is an embarrassment and the school boards and teacher’s unions are as much to blame as the parent’s.

Hopefully this charter school bill solves some problems for many children.

Peter Smagorinsky

February 19th, 2013
5:53 am

There are no teacher unions in Georgia. PAGE is not a bargaining unit or one that protects jobs. It plays no role in school governance. Please, pay attention before repeating this ridiculous falsehood.


February 19th, 2013
5:55 am

Sadly, this is actually the case, but of course, no one wants to admit what to do about those other children.

What about the special needs kids, kids who come from broken homes and the reluctant to learn?

Before you throw out discipline, consider this: most of those children who are disciplined at school is MINOR compared to the brutality of the discipline at home. I have heard tales of belts across the face, for instance, so discipline is out. (And btw, the teacher gets in trouble if they send too many students to the office for discipline, and the school gets in trouble if they have too many disciplinary actions against students – so that point is moot)

A charter school will not help the students who need it the most. The students coming from two parent, professional families with lots of parental support will be successful anywhere, a charter school for them is an excuse to get their children away from “Undesireables” similar to the Irish at the turn of the century and the integration in the 1960’s. Quick: Why do you think so many rural S. Georgia counties have successful private schools? Answer: Integration.

Home-tutoring parent

February 19th, 2013
5:57 am

I taugt a kid, his teacher judged him to be below class average. With intensive teaching he scored a 27 ACT math. In 7th grade.

Beverly Fraud

February 19th, 2013
6:29 am

(And btw, the teacher gets in trouble if they send too many students to the office for discipline, and the school gets in trouble if they have too many disciplinary actions against students – so that point is moot)

Though you are completely right, it is exactly the point. This dynamic of “blaming the teacher” who sends out of control children to the office, this dysfunction needs to be dismantled. It can’t be done from within; the bureaucracy has steadfastly refused to address it. The only way to address it is to starve the beast; starve the bureaucracy by giving more choices.

Right now, it appears the only choice to give the money to is to the educational equivalent of Somali pirates, but at least it does provide a chance to starve the beast

Beverly Fraud

February 19th, 2013
6:35 am

“a charter school for them is an excuse to get their children away from “Undesireables” similar to the Irish at the turn of the century and the integration in the 1960’s”

What about the African-American families that are clamoring for school choice SGAteacher? Are they trying to move their children away from “the blacks,” or are they trying to remove their children away from a dysfunctional system that continually under serves them because “these children will be fine anyway.”?

Just the Facts

February 19th, 2013
6:46 am

What happens to children left behind?
It could be argued that currently there are entire schools in the APS being left behind. You have a community of children not prepared for this world.


February 19th, 2013
7:15 am

Yeah, let’s ensure that we don’t provide a way to save the kids who actually want to learn, because that might damage the ones who don’t give a darn….oh, that makes sense…in the crazy world of education land maybe.

How about if we get as many as possible into an environment where they can succeed. Oh, but that wouldn’t be “fair” to the “ones left behind”, so let’s make sure to force ALL kids to stay in their current failing environments, where they can fall behind, join a gang (or be beat on by one), and go to prison.

Are you seriously printing this stuff?


February 19th, 2013
7:47 am

I quit reading at “panacea”. The uppity Academia tone had become too much.

Status Quo

February 19th, 2013
7:47 am

I hope the defenders of the status quo realize that people have just loss faith in traditional public schools. The evidence of failure in the current system across america is evident. It is time for significant change and that means allowing school choice…..let the best schools win!

Public education should be for the kids who are left behind. Public assistance is intended for those in challenging circumstances. Every else should choose the education institution that best fits the needs of their family.


February 19th, 2013
8:05 am

I stopped reading when I realized that Shanna Miles was leaking the plot to the sequel to “the hunger games”. I’m so sick of people telling the plot to movies and ruining it for everyone else. Gads I hate that.

Beverly Fraud

February 19th, 2013
8:12 am

“There are no teacher unions in Georgia. PAGE is not a bargaining unit or one that protects jobs. It plays no role in school governance. Please, pay attention before repeating this ridiculous falsehood.”

Which is another reason why teachers post anonymously. Consider that recent Supreme Court rulings have made it possible to construe that a teacher posting about education policy on a blog can be fired for breach of contract. Consider that whistle-blower protection law in Georgia specifically excluded teachers Are the people advocating that teachers post their name just as vociferous in advocating that teachers have adequate protection for doing so?

Because we know PAGE isn’t.

Again, we know there are privateers at work, looking to exploit; but they still serve to starve the beast that has become our educational bureaucracy.

In this case a Somail pirate is an improvement on a North Korean dictator.

Beverly Fraud

February 19th, 2013
8:17 am

@Georgia Waaay too funny, LOL


February 19th, 2013
8:20 am

As adults, we don’t get to opt out.

Parents opt out everyday.

From “Yes We Can” to “Yes They Can.”

Being a good parent costs nothing.


February 19th, 2013
8:22 am

Another step in re-segregating our schools. Why isn’t an equal education a civil right? If King were still alive this would be a major focus (including work that is available and pays.) We are not a good people but, instead, a small people skilled at rationalizing our selfish evil.


February 19th, 2013
8:23 am

They will be less prepared because the schools will have less money and larger classes, not to mention that many of the experienced teachers will leave and go to the “choice” schools. Eventually there will be 2 classes of schools and 2 classes of people– the educated and the child care educated. That is what George W. Bush wanted and what the Tea Party wants. And it can and will happen unless this nonense is stopped. People already have school choice– pay for private school or home school your children. But do not take money from others who need quality education .

Beverly Fraud

February 19th, 2013
8:37 am

If this is the same Shanna Miles who works for APS, you do realize you are working at a school that reported zero violent incidents in the same time period that the Atlanta Police Department logs report going to the school over fifty times in response to criminal activity?

Shill for the system if you want, but don’t blame those who are completely fed up with a system that time and time again has shown a total lack of integrity and want a better choice for their children.

And to even hint that they are somehow morally wrong for this? Morally wrong for not supporting APS?

Seriously Shanna?

Apologies if it’s a different Shanna Miles.

sneak peak into education

February 19th, 2013
8:37 am

For those who think this is a stellar idea, please consider that this is legislation written by your friends, ALEC, whose policies are geared specifically to put education into the hands of private, for-profit companies. They do not care about your children; they care about making money. They will not put your children’s educational needs at the forefront of their decisions but, instead, will be lead by the all mighty dollar sign. Every study shows that charter schools do not provide better educational results in 83% of cases and in many cases, are worse than their traditional counterparts. There are countless cases of charter schools committing fraud and bilking millions of dollars from the public coffers. And please remember, they can be setup with little of no oversight (just look at the steps our legislature took to hide the details of the scholarship plan) and aren’t always held to the same level of accountability as traditional public schools. BUYER BEWARE…


February 19th, 2013
8:37 am

Because our k1 -k12 is so bad employers recruit college graduates just so they can have someone who can read, write, and do basic math. To their surprise, some of these college graduates can not do that. Make education voluntary and steer those with poor academics toward the military and technical trades. Not everyone should be a doctor or low down lying lawyer.

Beverly Fraud

February 19th, 2013
8:43 am

“We are not a good people but, instead, a small people skilled at rationalizing our selfish evil.”

ReallyMM? An African American parent who wants to send their child to a charter school because the culture at the public school allows wanton disrespect to be the norm, and they prefer their child be educated with time honored values, and somehow, someway they are “segregationists” who are not good people, but people who “rationalizing” their evil?

Really MM? Really?

I mean really, when you apply facts and logic to some of these posts, you see just how ridiculous they sound…

Beverly Fraud

February 19th, 2013
8:50 am

For those who think this is a stellar idea, please consider that this is legislation written by your friends, ALEC, whose policies are geared specifically to put education into the hands of private, for-profit companies.

Yes @sneak we know; we know they are the equivalent of Somali pirates; we also know we are dealing with an educational machine that rivals the “enlightenment” of the North Korean government.

We accept the Somali pirates in the hopes that they will help starve the beast, and being smaller in number, they may be easier to dismantle than the government monolith has been.

A Faustian bargain for sure…


February 19th, 2013
8:51 am

Elizabeth, that’s not fair. Yes, as a home schooler who works nights I have been able to find ways to educate my children without them ever stepping foot in a public school. My oldest is in a small private school and my husband and I are blessed to be able to afford it. Yes, we gave up many other things to do this so, on one hand I agree with you.
However, the people who keep getting screwed in this country are the ones who are working hard every day and they still can’t afford the other options. I’m so tired of hearing about the lower classes because they are not the ones suffering. They are being taken care of. It’s the two parents making 40 thousand combined who can’t qualify for any benefits, can’t qualify for free lunch, day care assistance etc.. They could never afford private school. It’s the single mom making 30 thousand who gets a little bit of child support and is trying to pay rent, groceries etc… on 1,500 dollars a month. How is she supposed to home school? She can’t even afford to put gas in her car. She can’t pay private tuition. The working/middle class is getting the short end of the stick every time. These people are forced to send their kids to failing schools. When they have a charter option they are so excited. They just want their children to succeed. My only real experience with Charter Schools is the Smyrna Charter. I have met numerous kids from that school. Every child I’ve met is African American with parents who are hard working. Most of the time they are intact families or single moms who have high expectations of their children in terms of education. Most are living in apartments or small rental houses. They could NEVER afford private school. They are trying to get away from “undesirables”. They want to be away from the foul language and sexual acts on the school bus. They want to be away from the bullying in the bathrooms. They want their kids to be away from the out of control kids in the classrooms who keep their child from learning.
You people act like the upper middle class people are the ones trying to get into the Charter Schools but I just don’t see it that way. They HAVE other options. The ones who don’t are just trying to do what is best for their kids.

I know a lot of teachers who love working with underprivileged kids. The kids who would be left in the schools if there ever came to be enough Charter options that all the other kids were taken out. These teachers would relish the opportunity to develop programs specifically for these kids. Kids who need a little more “home” learning. Teaching them life skills as well as academics. I envision that the “left behind” kids would be able to thrive because the focus could be on them and they wouldn’t be looked at as the bad kids who are ruining things. Just a thought.


February 19th, 2013
8:54 am

this is why you need different schools for different kids!! put the high achievers and our smartest kids in certain schools and have schools for the average kids and then have trade schools for kids that do not have an interest in a traditional education. lets dont bring down our best and brightest to trying to educate everyone at the same level and same speed. please please spare me the story about certain kids that where labeled this and did that …….. those kids are the exceptions NOT THE NORM and we cant bring down our best and brightest because a few kids could overachieve if you put them in a more accelerated learning environment ….. our concern should be our best and brightest not the kids that dont want to learn with parents that could care less about school other than free day care for their kids.


February 19th, 2013
9:00 am

@gsmith, very good point….and the move to school choice also offers other options for parents…in particular, the parents of young boys who are currently being forced to sit at desks for hours on end…as if they are little girls, not rambunctious, wonderfully energetic boys. There is a huge opportunity for someone to open a school aimed at kids who can’t sit all day…but need to learn via an active, hands on approach.

We’d save a fortune on ADHD medication alone, not to mention helping these boys take advantage of the incredible energy they have, vs sending the message to them that they are awful people who need to be disciplined and medicated.

Lisa B.

February 19th, 2013
9:12 am

Perhaps some of the “undesirable” students would straighten up so they, too, could be accepted in “better” schools. I think only a small percentage of students truly cannot control their behavior, while a vast majority of “problem” students act out just for fun. I certainly understand the frustration with public schools. However, I am afraid of the unintended consequences created with this bill. Segregation will certainly occur, as students from poor, dysfunctional families are housed in facilities that could easily become “pipelines to prison.”

Sheryl Reese

February 19th, 2013
9:27 am

Sheesh Beverly Fraud (Fraud….Really?) Take a pill for goodness sake, get a job or run for office, but one comment should suffice. Better yet, get your own blog!

V for Vendetta

February 19th, 2013
9:29 am

To be honest, I’m going to have to agree with what Beverly and homeschooler have already said: I, too, am tired of hearing about those who apparently have not. There will ALWAYS be two classes of people in a free society: those who do what they are supposed to do and those who don’t. Freedom to thrive, succeed, and surpass also comes with the freedom to fail, suffer, and fall further behind. This is not a rationalization or a justification; it is a simply fact of reality. If we choose to continue ignoring reality and letting people suckle from the government, then little will change. In fact, it will get worse.

We should not be shocked that an opportunity for people to take education into their own hands comes with an outcry that this isn’t “fair” to some subset of the population. But freedom isn’t about “fairness.” It is about just the opposite. It is about taking your life into your own hands and making the best of it, using your own hard work, and motivated by nothing else save your own will to succeed.

A reminder: I am part of a two-teacher household, so I am anything but wealthy. I was raised in a two-teacher household, so I grew up anything but wealthy (actually I am far better off than my parents were). In short, I am not advocating personal responsibility from a position of extreme wealth or privilege. I’m advocating personal responsibility from a position of personal responsibility. Imagine that.


February 19th, 2013
9:33 am

@ gsmith

Yes!! Great idea and I believe we used to do it. It is called tracking and it was deemed racist by those in charge. It works…no doubt. If you went to school in the 1960s-1970s you were probably tracked. Everyone got what they needed and almost all were successful. However, someone, somewhere decided that it was keeping certain populations down. So….no more. One size fits all.

Beverly Fraud

February 19th, 2013
9:37 am

Sheesh Beverly Fraud (Fraud….Really?) Take a pill for goodness sake, get a job or run for office, but one comment should suffice. Better yet, get your own blog!

@Sheryl there is this function on most computers that allows you to scroll past the posts you find distasteful. I encourage you to employ it at will.


February 19th, 2013
9:38 am

I’m much more encourage by reading the responses and commentary to this article than I would have been…Oh, 10 years ago.

People have at long last woken up.The old educrat/teacher union- axis playbook of blaming the parent/blaming the taxpayer has been shot to heck.People are rebelling (in a civil manner,of course) and the results are like watching beautiful flowers bloom.Charters,parent trigger, they are all of a type-new thinking to refresh the learning process in Georgia and bring it up to date.The education cartel wouldn’t clean its own house,so now they’ll clean it anyway…Under less pleasant circumstances.

I often wondered (in my 30’s and 40’s) if I would live to see the days that we live in.I hoped to wake up to the joy that I felt last November when the charter amendment passed.Now I can look forward to a few more of those days before I hang ‘em up.

Thank you, Georgia!


February 19th, 2013
9:50 am

I’m just going to keep showing up every single day and doing my best for the students who show up too. If the “good” ones leave, I guess the ones who really need me will get more attention. Maybe that’s the point. As far as my own child goes, I’m just glad I can supplement at home. The Least Restrictive Environment for many kids has made the entire public school pretty darn restrictive for the rest of us. We are doing amazing things with the structure & the students we’ve been given.

Lisa B.

February 19th, 2013
9:53 am

Vendetta, I agree with your post. Homeschooler also makes a valid point; the upper middle class always has more options than those with less money. Many families cannot afford to live in the areas with better schools, etc. Charters will certainly answer the prayers of many. I know the poor will always be with us, but over the years, I’ve seen some of the most unlikely students leave poverty behind because of opportunites provided by public education. I am afraid for those students. I am afraid they will be trapped in terrible schools that have been abandoned by the successful students. I do not know the answer. I do know that many schools are in terrible shape, and something must be done. I am fortunate to work in a rural community with few of the problems found in urban schools.

10:10 am

February 19th, 2013
9:57 am

How depressing it must be, struggling day after day as this column does—to keep parents from having choices for their children.


February 19th, 2013
9:59 am

Do we even listen to what businesses say that they want for their workers? Take Kia, for example. They have said that they don’t need college prep students to go down to West Point to build Kias. They need people who can read, do basic math (don’t worry about Math IV), and be competitent in certain soft skills – come to work on time, put your pants on properly, look someone in the eye when you are having a conversation with them, respect, etc. I shudder to think about the students going out into the world saying they are going to be doctors, architects, whatever who can’t seem to form a proper sentence, do simple arithmatic without a calculator, or who took 3 times to finally pass Biology with a 70. We tell kids they can do anything they want, and while that is true, we fail to tell them that they can do anything they want if they are willing to work hard for it. I’ve had students tell me it is not my job to guide them in areas other than the content of my subject. I’ve had students tell me that they “are their own man” and to get out of their face. If these students don’t want to be at school, why are they there? I teach students who have passed the age of compulsary education. Nothing is keeping them there other than their choice.


February 19th, 2013
10:01 am

It seems that many of the posters express the common thinking: Just let those kids rot because they deserve it! The problem with that is, somewhere along the line you and I and our children are going to interface with those kids, perhaps holding a gun.

I WOULD like to see us develop schools whose focus is first and foremost rehabilitation. That is, schools that focus on the 3 Rs but also on the “soft” skills that make a person fit into our world. If a child comes to school with no goals (or none that will help his succeed in life) these types of schools will be given permission NOT to offer AP Physics, but will focus on activities to develop responsibility, proper grammar, proper dress, proper behavior. And we (and the courts) will give these schools permission to use more coercive means to bring about those changes and developments. These schools would begin at a very early age, and continue through high school. IF a student developed those skills after 4-5 years, they could petition to be allowed back in “regular” school. Perhaps parents would also be prodded to take come classes, or be bereft of some of the benefits they might currently enjoy.

We need to do something different. Right now we are not well serving either group of students–those who are motivated but have to sit in classes that are dumbed down or continually disrupted, and those who are not inculculated with “middle class” skills, attitudes, and beliefs. And until we do something different, our public lives are going to continue to degenerate.

Old timer

February 19th, 2013
10:02 am

Beverly and homeschoolers hit the nail on the head. Parents who care, putting their kids in a school, with children who care….we have to do something. Schools are failing our best and brightest. Something must change.

Clutch Cargo

February 19th, 2013
10:03 am


“How depressing it must be, struggling day after day as this column does—to keep parents from having choices for their children.”

Amen, Testify ! (So good that I had to repost it!)

Rational Thinker

February 19th, 2013
10:12 am

In my opinion, there is a growing clamor and push to transform all GA public schools into charter schools under the guise of labeling them as “non-performing”. I am not saying that there are no public schools that are bad or non/low performing; They are. However rather than trying to adopt a defeatist mentality and opt out, why not try to fix them?? If the State of GA puts this much effort in figuring out WHY these schools are “non-performing”, surely the situation can be reversed right?? How difficult is it to look at the high performing public schools plus what makes them tick and make some concerted efforts in modeling other low/non performing public schools after them??
Not all public schools are bad: The ones that are can be reformed, but it seems to me that this rabid push to “throw the baby out with the bath water” by smearing all the public schools with the same brush.
Not everyone can live in swanky neighborhoods with awesome public schools. The reality of life is that there are people who for one economic/social/personal reason or the other, live in neighborhoods that they can afford. Rather than just saying that “oh well, tough luck” that you are stuck in a neighborhood with a bad school, I believe that the State of GA should look for ways to address the root of their low performance and mandate them to adopt ways to improve their current standing, rather than selfishly changing them into charter schools.
We do not live in utopia. There are realities in this world/society we live in and we cannot just get to cherry pick how we get to live lives BECAUSE while we choose to ignore them now, there will be repercussions down the road for every selfish action that we take now.
If I cannot afford it, I cannot just buy a new car just because my current one isn’t working. I have to diligently find ways to fix it first and ONLY when I have exhausted ll my options should I then look at the possibility of buying another one.

Beverly Fraud

February 19th, 2013
10:13 am

It seems that many of the posters express the common thinking: Just let those kids rot because they deserve it!

@catlady, I think it is fair to say there are those who are thinking let the system rot, because it deserves to rot, in the hopes that, even though Somali pirates abound, something better will come from the decomposing rot.

Lisa B.

February 19th, 2013
10:19 am

Catlady’s suggestion could work if it was implemented correctly. It WON’T work if the project is not properly staffed and fully funded. Catlady made a good point that the “problem kids” don’t go away. They grow up and live in our communities. In the past, there have been success stories about alternative programs that worked. Of course, the programs didn’t work long because either the funding was cut, or the program got loaded up with the least qualified teachers and administrators. I understand that parents want educational choices for their children. Looking at the big picture though, we need to make sure we don’t simply warehouse the :undesirable” students and release them onto the streets without skills to support themselves.

Beverly Fraud

February 19th, 2013
10:21 am

@catlady, look at the bill concerning retirees you referenced the other day; people put their entire professional lives into the system and the system is still willing to pull the rug out at the end, while richly rewarding the Halls, Augustines, and Atkinsons of the world.

Does this system not deserve to rot?

Don't Tread

February 19th, 2013
10:22 am

As usual, the focus is on the troublemakers in school (broken homes, blah blah blah) instead of the kids who want to learn. How about caring about those kids who want to be productive members of society, and giving them the chance to succeed in school?!

School policy cannot and will not fix a broken moral compass.

retired teacher

February 19th, 2013
10:26 am

Not all children who are left behind are bad kids from poor families who don’t know any better. Many of them are slow learners who are passed through the system via social promotion. Teachers are told to “differentiate” their lessons in order to remediate them. Teachers really can only do so much and those kids just keep getting farther and farther behind until they hit high school and where they eventually drop out.

As Catlady says, there needs to be a serious overhaul of the way schools work. It needs to start in elementary school so that kids who are behind will have a ghost of a chance to catch up. The problem is that parents wont allow it and administrators either can’t or won’t do it. If you created a team of teachers, they really could figure out a way to do it, but politicians won’t listen to those who do know how to get this done.

V for Vendetta

February 19th, 2013
10:27 am

Lisa B and catlady,

I completely understand your points of view, but I think a certain truth needs to be examined in terms of the children you’re afraid of us turning our backs on. It is regrettable that so many children in this country and born to parents who are inept, incapable, or just plain stupid. Children deserve better. But unless we want to start dictating who can and cannot have children–and we certainly don’t want to go down that road–then we must accept that there will be children growing up in deplorable conditions. Furthermore, class and social status have far less to do with the failure of parents and their children than one might think. It is a phenomenon related to CULTURE. I teach at an upper-middle class school, an award-winning one no less, and the statistical failure rate based on basic demographic information would be shocking to you. These kids are not wanting for anything. They have food, shelter, nicer clothes than me, and are often dropped off by parents driving luxury automobiles. Yet they are on free and reduced lunch programs, care not a whit about education, and constantly disrupt the learning environment for the other students.

No, it is not a poverty war we are waging. And I do not feel too bad about those who care about education removing themselves from such a situation…at a middle class school. I can only imagine how those at a lesser school feel.

I don’t want to see any kid “rot” because we don’t care about him or her. But before I’ll care about someone, he or she must first care about themselves.

DeKalb Inside Out

February 19th, 2013
10:33 am

A+ and failing students each deserve a chance to learn.

Ivy Prep and KIPP have successful charters in failing areas. Seems like the Parent Trigger could do the same thing for existing failing schools.