What's going on in our schools?

I was scanning my newsfeeds this morning and caught these stories:

I'm sure that these are just oddball exceptions, but jeez. These aren't political... they're pathetic. What's going on in our schools?


I don't think these are oddball exceptions

I think they are the natural outgrowth of a "big schools" philosophy, exacerbated by political leadership that promotes war (not just in Iraq, but also the war on drugs, the war on terror, the war on science), torture, greed, guns and hopelessness.

We can't change any of these things easily, but we could change our approach to factory schooling. The evidence is overwhelming that smaller schools are not only better learning environments, they also have fewer discipline problems and encourage stronger relationships between teachers and students.

Doubts about Dole?

Generally speaking, a lot of these incidents

can be traced back to parents and other adults in the area. In the Scotland Neck fifth-grader incident, that is very likely to be non school-related. The kid probably got the gun & reefer from a parent or neighbor, especially considering the local police have some serious problems:

On 9/10/07, SBI arrested Joseph Wright for Possession With Intent to Sell and Deliver and Sale and Delivery of marijuana. Wright was a Scotland Neck police officer and was arrested at the Scotland Neck Police Department after he arrived to work his night shift. Wright was placed in the Hertford County jail under a $50,000 secured bond. Future charges are anticipated.

I think James is correct that "factory"-type schools are a problem, but I think he and I may differ on what those problems are and how to fix them. I am of the opinion that the only students who should be removed from the "general population" are those whose disability-related special needs are not being met, and/or those who are "at risk", which includes students who have been kept back to the point they are much older than their classmates.

When I moved to NC in 1973, I initially attended a huge inner-city middle school. One day I was getting dressed after gym class and noticed a big guy a few lockers down wearing a full beard and tattoos (I now realize those were prison tats). I said something like "Hey, coach", which he ignored while other students snickered quietly. I came to find out he was an 18 yo 8th grader that went back to school after a few years in a juvenile lock-up. :/

But when we talk about pulling good, disciplined, high-performing kids out of the mainstream and into smaller schools, that (to me) is a mistake. Their value as an example and possibly mentorship is lost in an environment that's needing those things badly.