Michael Lewis, an eighth grader who was expelled from Baker Middle School for fighting, said he had not gotten into similar trouble back in New Orleans. "You can't really hardly communicate with other people" in Baton Rouge, he said. "I don't know why they have such a grudge on us. They just do."
If it were not for the hurricane, Michael said, he would be enrolled. "I love school," he said. "There's no place I would rather be, during school hours, than school."
Mr. Cowsar said Michael had asked to join his group, whose efforts to become an official charter school have faltered. The group lost financing for the two teachers it had in the fall, and it had only a couple of volunteers to handle about 15 children ages 4 to 14. There was no room for Michael.
Michael said he had wanted to go to summer school, for which parents must pay in some districts. At any rate, he said, his mother did not have time to sign him up. "I want to stay in a child place," he said, "but life keep putting me in a man's place."1
There are kids like him everywhere. Most of them aren't as eloquent. Either way, it breaks my heart. When a kid like this can't get a decent education even when he tries, something is terribly wrong.
March 19, 2007: Now that I'm a teacher, all I have to say is: I don't feel the same way anymore.
1. from The New York Times