The bottom line of the good discipline those schools have is a certain reality that has to be in the back of students', parents', and teachers' minds: If a student doesn't meet the behavioral and performance standards of the school, he or she will be gone. In Sweating the Small Stuff, a book about six successful inner-city schools, a teacher is quoted as telling a misbehaving student, "If you're going to act like that, you won't be able to stay here."
He raises a legitimate question regarding those students who are Left Behind through such practices. As I was reflecting on this concept of removing students, I thought about our own context since we are a school of choice in our district. We have the ability, in some cases, to deny or rescind students who are zone transfers. And believe me, we have some staff and parent groups who wish I would use that option more often then I do. In reality, I'm very reluctant to use that tool in elementary school (high school is a different animal altogether and I would be a lot less reluctant to pull the plug).
My thinking is that students who have poor attendance or horrible behavior in elementary school need redirection, reeducation, retraining, and reinforcement of the good behaviors that will allow the student to be successful in the future. We are doing a disservice to the student and our own learning community when we decide to jettison students ... and families when they haven't lived up to our standards. In fact, I like to think that our school is a great place for students who are struggling academically, socially, behaviorally or any other way. We have a staff who will not leave these students in their current state, but will work tirelessly to find the strategy or support that will enable every child to progress and overcome all obstacles. I think that is a sign of a much more impressive school than one that can raise test scores by sending the "troublesome element" elsewhere. My aim is that we would aim to be more of the former than the latter.