Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Billy. Stop Sucking Your Thumb Or You're Outta Here

Here's an intriguing headline: "Research Finds High Rate Of Expulsion In Preschool." The article says preschool children are three times as likely to be expelled as children in kindergarten through 12th grade.

Expelled to where? Is there an alternative preschool for kids who suck their thumbs? Do they take these kids and try to teach them a trade like stacking blocks, or do they just give their names to military recruiters?

We've written before about our less than stellar tenure as denizens of the great industrio/educational cartel, but it seems to us that when you take a child who is still peeing his pants and ask him to take notes on your power point presentation about semicolons, you're just asking for trouble.

"What the data tell us is that there are a lot of out-of-control kids out there," said Karen Hill-Scott, a California expert on children's development and their readiness for school. "Why just last week I observed a three year old picking his nose and flipping the boogers at another child. He had to be tasered."

We're impressed. It was second grade before we discovered booger flipping and we still remember the time we landed a goober right in Jim Decker's ear. While our teacher may have fondly dreamed of expelling us, instead she sent us to the Assistant Principal who patiently explained that boogers could spread disease and may make people sick. Much as we enjoyed sending a slimy one around the room, we didn't want to make anyone sick so we stopped. Well, that and he threatened to tell our father if we did it again.

Dr. Hill-Scott said it was not surprising that expulsion rates in preschool were higher than those in later grades, since schools are legally obligated to educate children in kindergarten through 12th grade, while pre kindergarten programs are not required to retain disruptive children. "We call it the toilet theory of discipline," she continued, "If they act up--flush 'em."

So that explains why they kept letting us come back. It wasn't like they thought it was their job or anything. It wasn't that they could pick and choose who they wanted to teach. They had to teach all of us. Boy, if we had only known they couldn't get rid of us...

The findings also suggest that although the national debate over pre-kindergarten focuses on how to get more low-income kids into the programs, "there appears to be a back door through which some children — the ones who stand the most to gain from these programs — are sometimes pushed," says Walter Gilliam of Yale's Child Study Center and the author of the report. 4-year-olds were expelled at a rate of about 1½ times that of 3-year-olds — 5.9 per 1,000 vs. 4.0 per 1,000. Black students were twice as likely to be expelled as whites.

"It's not that we try to throw out the minority children," said Gilliam. "It just that when we throw out white kids, their parents sue us."

"Teaching our youngest children is hard, demanding work, and on some days it can be grueling," says Libby Doggett of the advocacy group Pre-K Now. "You would think the little monsters would appreciate that, but do they? No way. They act like children."

Steve Barnett of the National Institute for Early Education Research at Rutgers University questions the study's high expulsion rates and says findings have not been corroborated with those of states. In New Jersey, for example, "there's not a single case where anyone can identify ... where a kid was expelled." The study says New Jersey had 255 pre-K expulsions. "All I'm saying is in New Jersey if youse gets outta line, youse takes a little trip with my friend Vinny the fish," Barnett explained.

Wow. Talk about your enlightened disciplinary methods. But it looks like that school of thought has already been countered. Man. And we thought boogers were bad.

1 comment:

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