Public school, once looked upon as a privilege, is now looked upon as a right.
Don't obey the rules of school? You're still entitled.
Many counties operate shadow school systems. Students expelled for misbehavior are sent to "alternative" schools instead.
Take a knife to school, get really, really expelled, and the courts hold that you're still entitled to an education - even if it has to be delivered at home.
People who started school in the early decades of the last century had virtually no sense of entitlement.
Instead, they had something far more powerful - a sharp sense of opportunities and of consequences.
Some kids now lack that clarity.
Somehow, entitlement has robbed public education of the respect it should enjoy.
The reforms West Virginia is pursuing - the devolution of power to local educators - is tame stuff as reforms go. Many reformers go further - and how they're going about it is worth thinking about.
Jay Mathews, education writer for The Washington Post, wrote recently of a five-year study of the Knowledge Is Power Program, now known as KIPP.
Mathews says it "has had more success than any other large educational organization in raising the achievement of low-income students."
The five-year study found that: "The average impact of KIPP on student achievement is positive, statistically significant, and educationally substantial."
That's what West Virginians want and kids deserve.
"Achievement was greater in KIPP schools 'where principals report a more comprehensive school-wide behavior system . . . '"
It sounds like how principals ran school in the old days.
Can their successors do that today? Or have courts, stressing "rights," unintentionally undercut the authority and respect that educators once commanded?
Would consequences - get expelled three times and you're on your own - help more teachers help more students?
Something tells me they would.
Incidentally, KIPP is a charter school network free to try such things as discipline to which there is no right of appeal. Some states allow them.
Are charter schools in the West Virginia reform bill?
If not, we aren't serious.
Maurice is editorial page editor of the Daily Mail. She may be reached at 348-4802 or ha...@dailymail.com.