Reine Duell Bethany - Author and Illustrator
My Blog

Students on the way to nowhere

When I subbed in public middle schools, I saw children in the in-school suspension room. Most of them had been there repeatedly.
 
Why were they there?
 
They were in jail. They had to be, for their behavior rendered their continued presence in the classroom impossible. To sit in a desk and focus on the teacher had been excluded from their lifestyle. They had to bait the teacher, bait the other students, and constantly draw attention to themselves. With them in the room, no one else could learn.
 
They had to be gotten rid of to avoid an unjust imposition of their noise on others' earnest learning.
 
The other day I had to dismiss two such students . . . from a college classroom. Eighteen years old they might be, but they would not sit five minutes without texting, snickering, whispering, coughing, rattling papers, or suddenly getting up and leaving to handle "family issues."
 
The animosity those two stirred in their classmates has mounted so high that returning them to class has become impossible. The school will attempt to finish their semester in basic prep writing by having them to special sessions in the Writing Center. 
 
As they strode noisily and resentfully down the hall after I dismissed them, I caught myself thinking, "I always wondered how those girls in the middle school ISS room turned out."
 
Now I know. But I am not happy to know. By eighteen, both students had had many chances to choose other than their immature, inconsiderate patterns. They chose to retain the patterns. They chose to act as if everybody else was to blame for their actions and their consequent ejection from the classroom.  They chose not to grow up. Society has a place for people who refuse to grow up. It's called jail.

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