A recent Advocate article reported about the propensity of public schools to quickly "toss students with behavior problems," and that "most students fail to get the help they need when they are assigned to alternative schools." The article noted that the educational report was "compiled by a 38-member study group of school superintendents, counselors, principals and others." The news article also cited a report noting that although "black students make up 44 percent of the public school population, 85 percent of those (are) sent to alternative programs." The news article, reflecting the contents of the report, was clearly not kind to "alternative schools": For example, it mentioned that "many young people in serious need of help are not receiving the services they need" ... and students in Louisiana alternative education settings rarely receive academic, behavioral, social and emotional services needed to address the root cause of their exit from the home school." The state educational report noted that "the average statewide dropout rate in grades 7-12 for students in alternative schools is 19 percent. The rate for students statewide is 4 percent for those grades."
Although this reader does not doubt the sincerity of the report, nor the facts presented, I think that once again, our state, through the education process, is trying to solve a social problem. The mission of the public school system is to educate our future citizens to become productive and successful members of society. Regretfully, many in our state have laid upon our state public education system the mission of solving all of society's failings and particularly the social failings of dysfunctional families, absentee parents, rampant drug usage and the breakdown of the nuclear family. As good as individual teachers are within the classroom, it is, in this reader's humble opinion, not their mission to be parent, counselor, priest, rabbi, pastor, older sibling or grandparent.
And yet the state review panel cited in this Advocate article prescribes that "alternative schools" in our state should become exactly that. "State and local education officials need to devise a plan for short- and long-term treatment," and the "short-term plan should include academic and behavioral remediation for students in danger of being expelled for behavior problems or missing school." The report also specified that "long-term services would be for students who need extensive and intensive resources to succeed, according to the study."
Thusly, alternative schools should solve "behavior problems" and "missing school" with "extensive resources". And just what might be these extensive resources be?
This reader submits the most effective extensive resources just might be an intact family or maybe a stay at home father.
Regretfully, that will not be the first solution advocated in this societal crisis.
John S. White