In July 1986, the authors, attorneys for a student advocacy organization, received a letter from a New York parent who wrote: I have two children. One [my son] attends an elite [public] school.... My daughter, on the other hand, must spend her days at a [public] school for throw-aways. An emotional crisis caused her to have poor attendance in the ninth grade. She did not make an elite school. She didn't even make an "ed op" school .... So now, she is in a school where all the kids have serious attendance and academic problems. While the kids are "enrolled," they have really dropped out. Everyone in the place has problems-and I think the worst problem is that these kids are totally isolated from kids who will stay in school and achieve. My son says that when kids misbehave in his school, the threat is that they have to go to my daughter's school .... Maybe someone might care about "holding pens for rejects!" Maybe kids who need help should be in a viable institution and occasionally see an achieving kid. I wish I lived in the suburbs where both my kids could go to the same school. My daughter's shame about herself, her classmates and her school are a problem that no better teachers, better curriculum and more accountability can overcome.
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