Here is a debate that is germane to our times.

Recently a video was widely distributed showing a police officer in South Carolina dragging a student out of her chair when she refused to obey orders. This incident, so vividly portrayed, generated much discussion about whether the police officer acted appropriately and whether schools should be patrolled by police.

Then came the heated discussion about suspending kindergarten children for breaking rules. This occurred after John Merrow interviewed charter founder Eva Moskowitz on PBS, and she defended the practice.

Now comes conservative economist Thomas Sowell, who argues in his syndicated column that schools are correct to use whatever discipline is needed to enable other children to learn.

Sowell writes:

“If the critics are right, and getting rid of the influence of uncooperative or disruptive students contributes to better educational results, then the answer is not to prevent charter schools from expelling such students, but to allow other public schools to remove such students, when other students can benefit from getting a better education without them around.

“This is especially important in low-income schools, where education is for many their only chance for a better life.”

Jonathan Pelto takes the opposite view. He argues that it is immoral and unethical for charters to “dump” students who might lower the school’s test scores.

Pelto writes:

“The undeniable truth is that while gobbling up massive amounts of scarce public funds, the vast majority of Charter Schools refuse to accept their fair share of students who need special education services and children who aren’t proficient in the English Language (So-called ELL students.)

“And when “the unwanted” do get into Charter Schools, the companies running the schools use immoral and unethical tactics to push out students that don’t fit their corporate profile.

“No real public school could ever engage in the abusive and unfair dumping practices that have become the norm in the Charter School Industry.

“In Connecticut, a leading example of a push-out strategy was the one utilized by the Achievement First Inc. Charter School chain. (See The “Shocking Numbers Of Kindergarten, First Grade Suspensions” at Achievement First Schools.)”

If charters continue to dump or exclude the students they don’t want, then they should be forbidden from comparing their scores to those of public schools that accept the students they reject.