Kids need alternatives and support, not to be “fired.”

I began reading John Neal’s Maine Compass, “Schools should be able to fire students who don’t want to learn” (Jan. 18), assuming it to be a satirical work (e.g., let’s fire the children, rather than eat them.)

Dismay began to set in as it dawned on me that his proposal was genuine.

Although I have not been in education as long as Neal, I have taught for eight years and I currently teach at Gardiner Area High School.

Every day I work with difficult students. Yes, they do take up a disproportionately large amount of my time and sometimes end up distracting others, but they are worth the time and effort.

Perhaps when Neal writes that some students go to school only for a “warm place to get free meals and visit friends,” he doesn’t realize that some of these students come from families that can’t afford to heat their houses, don’t reliably have food on the table or don’t have a home to go to at all.

When he says that trouble-causing teenagers should spend the day with their parents instead of at school, he may not realize that many of these students are abused or neglected by their parents.

Perhaps Neal does not realize the burden dropouts place on society, representing a disproportionately large percentage of the unemployed, the imprisoned and those on public assistance.

I’ve had many difficult students in my day, but never one I was willing to give up on. Some kids need more time, some kids need more support and some kids need to learn or demonstrate their learning in different ways.

What they don’t need is for adults to give up on them.

Karl Matulis


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