Monday, December 05, 2005

The conflict between a "right" to education versus an acceptable level of behavior

Joanne Jacobs has a post about a 12 year-old boy who got up in the middle of a class lesson to go get a drink of water. In an article about this the boy, Charles, claimed he was suffering from acid reflux. The teacher told him to wait until after the lesson was over. (It isn't clear if this was two more minutes, or just how long.) The boy went anyway, and the teacher “tried unsuccessfully to steer him back.” At the start of the article, I wondered if the teacher was a bit out of line. The rest of the article has several instances of the boy being a jerk and disrespectful. His mother is suing the school over this. Four years ago his mother also sued a school.

At the foundation of this conflict is how society sees education as a right, not a privilege. Because education is a "right," children are not being held to some acceptable level of behavior. The children are asked to behave, they are asked to be polite, but often teachers or the school have little ability to give serious consequences. Teachers have to spend a large amount of their time handling a disruptive child. If one child consistently makes it hard for the rest of the students to learn, then the school should be able to quickly remove that child from class.

Until this problem gets resolved, it is one more reason for parents to pull their children from the public school system and teach them at home. Their children won’t have to waste time because of disruptive children. Their children won’t be taught that you can get away with bad behavior.

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