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Reform schools increase discipline, chance to succeed

If states were to bring back reform schools – such as boot camps and military schools – for violent and troubled teens, teachers could focus more on education and less on discipline. This could greatly improve students’ grades. If schools can improve grades, they can also make vast improvements to the curriculum. This is the key to lessen the gap between actual opportunity and the idealist vision of equal opportunity provided to children of different social standings.

Drugs and violence in schools have been increasing greatly, especially in poor urban areas overrun with crime. How can one expect to receive a good education when the teacher is too busy dealing with disruptive students? The School Survey on Crime and Safety (SSOCS), conducted by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), found that during the 1999-2000 school year, 1,466,000 violent incidents were reported from 58,500 of the primary and secondary schools surveyed. Among these violent incidences were sexual battery, robbery, and threat or physical attack with or without a weapon.

No student can obtain a quality education under such circumstances. Schools could completely eliminate the bad influences by suggesting to the parents of the child that they go to a military-style school or boot camp. Although there are reports of mistreatment of juveniles in boot camps, such as the death of 14-year-old Martin Lee Anderson in Tallahassee, such cases are the exceptions to what, overall, is a beneficial system. Teenagers who have no concept of respect or responsibility do not belong in the public school system. These distractions aren’t fair for those who want to learn and work hard for good grades.

To decrease the existing crime rates in public schools, there needs to be more than prevention programs against drugs and violence. Long-term reform schools could greatly decrease crime in schools by working with highly troubled students. Instead of suspending or sending kids to juvenile detention, schools should be able to send them to reform schools, where they would be in a strict and challenging environment, encouraging respect, responsibility and the concept of reality. Schools such as Admiral Farragut Academy in St. Petersburg strive to “promote character, discipline and leadership and to instill in each of them the qualities of tolerance, honor, physical fitness and civic responsibility,” according to its Web site.

The ideal concept of equal opportunity begins at school. By ridding public schools of bad influences, teachers could do what they get paid to do: teach. Education is the most important aspect in creating opportunities for kids, and it is important that every child gets an equal chance to succeed.