Hi everyone. I have an op-ed published in the Times today. Here's the link:
To clarify a couple points:
-The bottom 5% is not referring to academically struggling students. It refers to the bottom 5% in terms of behavior--a much more significant metric.
A struggling student who works hard will have a better shot at life than a "gifted" student who does no work and causes all kinds of problems. Talent is not the issue, it's what you do with it.
So people who are bothered by the 5% idea should re-consider it in these terms. If you object to the idea that there is a bottom 5%, then I hope you never supported the idea of the 1%. There's very little difference in concept, just a different issue.
-It's hard to fit a lot of information in a 600 word column, so some things I would normally elaborate on have to get left out (hence this blog, where I can go on for pages). But the other main thing I would have said more about is that I agree suspensions should not be overused. The recent stories about first graders getting sent home for making guns with their fingers and their pop tarts is just ludicrous.
Suspensions are also better utilized as in-school, rather than as free time at home, as some people have pointed out. This is absolutely true. If we had the personnel, this is the place where some of that behavior coaching could happen, because they actually have the time for it.
-But the heart of the column is that one or two students simply should not be allowed to jeopardize the educations of the rest of the class, and this point remains true without exception. To say this is not "giving up" on anyone. It's to accept reality. Some students will fail, no matter what we do. See my recent post -- Everyone Must Agree On This First -- for more on this.
Hope this helps.
(By the way, next post will be a comparison of students from North Korea in South Korean schools. What will Michelle Rhee think of this data?)