by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Thomas Sowell‘s latest column at Human Events offers a different twist on the recent high-profile debate over whether a police officer used excessive force when forcibly removing a student from a public school classroom.
What has received far less attention, though it is a far larger question, with more sweeping implications, is the role of disruptive students in schools.
Critics of charter schools have often pointed to those schools’ ability to expel uncooperative and disruptive students, far more readily than regular public schools can, as a reason for some charter schools’ far better educational outcomes, as shown on many tests.
The message of these critics is that it is “unfair” to compare regular public schools’ results with those of charter schools serving the same neighborhoods — and often in the same buildings. This criticism ignores the fact that schools do not exist to provide jobs for teachers or “fairness” to institutions, but to provide education for students.
“Fairness” is for human beings, not for institutions. Institutions that are not serving the needs of people should either be changed or phased out and replaced, when they persistently fail.
Despite the painfully bad educational outcomes in many public schools in ghettos across the country, there are also cases where charter schools in the very same ghettos turn out students whose test scores are not only far higher than those in other ghetto schools, but sometimes are comparable to the test scores in schools in upscale suburban communities, where children come from intact families with highly educated parents.
Charter schools with such achievements should be celebrated and imitated, not attacked by critics because of their “unfair” exemptions from some of the counterproductive rules of the education establishment. Maybe such rules should be changed for all.
If the critics are right, and getting rid of the influence of uncooperative or disruptive students contributes to better educational results, then the answer is not to prevent charter schools from expelling such students, but to allow other public schools to remove such students, when other students can benefit from getting a better education without them around.