Parents and teachers should be able to choose safe, orderly schools designed for “the vast majority of children . . . who come to school wanting to learn,” argues Mike Petrilli in the New York Times.
Disruptive students make schools “unpleasant, unsafe and unconducive to learning,” he writes.
For eons, excellent schools have found smart ways to create order that need not require large doses of punitive sanctions. (They create) . . . a climate of respect for students and teachers alike; setting clear behavioral expectations schoolwide and enforcing them consistently; and using a set of graduated consequences for misbehavior that work to correct problems before they get out of hand.
It’s no surprise, then, that both parents and educators flock to schools with strong, positive climates and a sense of order. Once upon a time that often meant urban Catholic schools, with their school uniforms and ample supply of tough love. Increasingly it means urban charter schools, many of which are secular forms of the Catholic schools of old.
It’s much easier for schools of choice to enforce order. “They can make their discipline codes clear to incoming families (and teachers),” writes Petrilli. “Those who find the approach too strict can go elsewhere.”
Instead of forcing charters to tolerate more disruption in the classroom, why not encourage district schools to tolerate less?
Districts can create choice schools. How many low-income urban parents would choose a do-your-own-thing school over a school with clear rules enforced consistently? Some would prefer a “community school” with social workers and counselors, while others would want an academically focused school with after-school tutors.