Sunday, March 3, 2013

Why Education Can't Afford to Pass the Buck

Kicking kids out of school, having them quit or quietly disappear has been a fact of life as long as there has been school.  If the student wouldn't perform, he would be asked or ordered to not return to class or school all together. This response is similar to the business model.  If the employee doesn't show up for work on time, fails to do the work as assigned, is dishonest or refuses to follow directives, he will be fired.  The business model works to teach the employee an important lesson.  If you can't work here, you will need to find work elsewhere.  Employees leave and hopefully learn their lesson as they look for their next job.

While firing employees who fail to perform works in business, this model doesn't necessarily transfer to the education sector.  When a student does what it takes to be fired from school, what lesson is learned?  Where do students go for their next learning opportunity?

The lesson learned is that if the student doesn't conform, he is no longer required to learn essential skills anymore.  He can stay home everyday which is what many struggling students desire to do anyway.  He can transfer to the school of the streets where he can learn skills that will prepare him for a life of crime.  He can go to work at a part-time, minimum wage job which will be the highest level career that he can attain.


So in essence, allowing students to fire themselves from school relegates them to a life of poverty or crime. 

Let's look at poverty and crime for a second
  1. More people are dependent on governmental assistance than ever in our nation's history. 
  2. The imprisonment rate is the highest in our nation's history at over 2.5 million prisoners currently locked up in the penitentiary. 
  3. Our courts are flooded with criminal cases to the point that it would take 10 years for the courts to try every case that was filed this year. (Yes, that is correct. 10 years to try this year's cases) Judges have no choice but to make plea agreements, so criminals can be punished.
  4. Once a person is convicted of a crime, he is virtually unemployable for any middle class career for the rest of his life.
  5. The majority of crimes that police officers deal with involve people in poverty.
  6. Domestic abuse has a higher chance of occurring in families of poverty than not.
  7. Children of poverty come to school more than 2 years behind their affluent counterparts.
  8. Children of imprisoned parents have a greater chance of having emotional and social issues than children whose parents are not in the penal system.
  9. More children are being raised by grandparents, aunts, uncles and guardians than ever before.
  10. It costs $27 to educate a student for one day while it costs $65 to house an inmate in jail for a day.

The effects of poverty and crime are staggering!!!

At some point, these former students gave up on school.  They quit or the school sent them on their way.  While I do not wish to argue the validity of whether these former students were difficult or deserving of consequences or accountability.  I do want to illustrate the point that by removing them from education, education is passing the buck on to the government; hence the taxpayer.  In other words, for every student that fails to be educated, the student and his children become dependents of the nation and its resources.  The student never learns the intended lesson, to be an independent productive member of society. 

We can no longer afford to pass the problem onto someone else.  No one is better equipped to prevent poverty and crime than education. While education is completely overwhelmed, every other governmental agency is overwhelmed as well.  The only way that we can address this issue is to not pass the buck onto someone else but work with the other agencies to hold students and their parents accountable for ensuring that their child is educated. 

Education is the only hope to reduce or possibly end the cycle of poverty and crime.  Educators must know that we are the last line of defense to save children from becoming another statistic of systemic dependence.  We must accept the moral obligation to educate every child and prevent children from choosing a life of poverty and crime.

My final thought is this.  For every buck that we pass onto someone else, it will cost us 10 bucks to deal with it forever.  That is why we can't afford to pass the buck.


  1. I'm not sure that this is a real problem. Kids don't get kicked out of school anymore. If they get expelled (only for behavior reasons, never for academic reasons), they just go to a different school. If they get expelled from that school, then they go to continuation school. If they get expelled there, then they go to Community Dat School. If they get expelled there, they go to adult school.
    But your argument applies perfectly to dropouts. Dropouts really do happen. This would have been a great article if you'd written it about preventing dropouts instead of kicking kids out of school.


    1. Mike,
      Thank you for the pushback. i went back and clarified my first thoughts.

      You're right, they don't get kicked out anymore. However, they do slowly disappear from education. The attrition rate in my state is 25% compared to the official dropout rate of 7%. That means 1 in 4 freshmn fail to graduate. I haven't compared this to the national average but I would think a similar trend exists.

      I also don't believe the answer is to blame educators. They are killing themselves for kids. We need more support and collaboration from outside the school to save every kid.

      Have a great day.