By Robyn Barberry, Special to CNN
Editor’s note: Robyn Barberry teaches English at an alternative high school and a community college in Maryland. With her husband, she manages Legends of the Fog, a haunted attraction with more than 200 teen volunteers. She has an Master of Fine Arts in creative nonfiction from Goucher College and blogs about motherhood for The Catholic Review.
(CNN) - Rather than spending their eighth-grade year at Athena Middle School, the three students who verbally savaged bus monitor Karen Klein have been suspended to the Greece, New York, school district’s reengagement center and will complete mandatory community service. Though their punishment exceeded Klein’s desire for the boys to lose their bus and extracurricular activity privileges, most people are satisfied with this story’s ending.
For people like me, this is where the story begins.
No matter how many poor choices teenagers make, only one - the decision to drop out - can prevent them from earning a high school diploma. Expelled students may lose the right to attend their home schools, but they are still legally entitled to an education. For this reason, public school systems have alternative programs, like the one in New York that the bus bullies will attend and the one in Maryland where I teach high school English.
Alternative education is widely misunderstood. It’s not prison. It’s not “let’s-talk-about-our-feelings” camp. It’s not a delinquent storage facility. It’s a second chance at learning, where the district curriculum is upheld, rules are enforced and rehabilitation can occur.
The alternative school atmosphere is not as tumultuous as one might think. It’s more like the day after a major storm has occurred. The tension has not fully evaporated. Shards of debris are all over the place. Loss is catastrophic. There is a genuine state of emergency, but the real danger has passed. It’s time to rebuild.
Steve Perry examines the question as to whether Americans are expecting too much or too little from the next generation. Is being ordinary good enough? Perry says we need to get kids to excel. (From Starting Point)
(CNN) Simon Hauger is transforming education in Philadelphia. He uses project-based learning to promote academic outcomes for kids who face real challenges. His students designed a car that gets 65 MPG. (From The Next List)
CNN’s Schools of Thought blog is a place for parents, educators and students to learn about and discuss what's happening in education. We're curious about what's happening before kindergarten, through college and beyond. Have a story to tell? Contact us at email@example.com