Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Color me unimpressed...

Apologists for student misbehavior march on school board office to protest their students' punishments.

One of the things that annoyed me greatly when I was teaching was just how many of the school's resources went to deal with kids who didn't want to be there, who weren't interested in learning, and whose parents weren't interested in learning, who sent the kids to school for lunch and entertainment. It short-changed the kids who *were* interested in learning -- who were the vast majority of kids. It appears that Noble Network, a group of charter high schools in Chicago formed by former high school teachers, had that same gripe. They found a solution: the misbehaving kids (or their parents) pay the extra money needed to run detention, pay for the out-of-school suspension class, and so forth.

Look. We're not talking first graders. These are high school kids. They have money of their own, they know what they're supposed to do in a classroom (i.e., *not* talk and chew gum and talk back to the teacher), they just choose not to behave, that's all. Well so be it. And while the $140 evening class is a lot of money for a poor family, it only happens after *TWELVE* detentions. And look, if you've been in detention twelve times, frankly I don't have any sympathy for you.

So what's the solution of those who dislike this discipline policy? Just suspend the kid, send the kid home to hang around on the streets and get dumber? Because that's the "traditional" discipline policy for dealing with kids who repeatedly misbehave. Yeah, that really works well at making sure kids stay engaged in school and learning... sorta like gasoline really works well for putting out fires. Alrighty, then!

-- Badtux the Former Teacher Penguin


  1. The thing I always heard was "... My child wouldn't do that ." Yeah, right ........

  2. The traditional solution was to refer such students to the wonderful world of "shop" where they could learn floor sweeping, small engine repair, and other useful but physically active skills.

    For the kids that are still unable to manage themselves urban agriculture, landscaping, pruning, irrigation plumbing and other outside work might be appropriate.

    Keep dumbing down the skills assigned until they find happiness or get the message. Nobody should get sent home to the television, laptop, X-box and infinite porn of unsupervised internet.

  3. I would be against this in a traditional public school on the grounds that it can be a hardship to really poor students. I know $5 doesn't seem like much but for someone who is very poor, it is. Especially when the infraction is a first time offense for something like having one's shoes untied. But this is a charter school so parents can choose not to send their kids there.

    Personally, if I had kids, I wouldn't send them to such a strict school because I believe that kind of discipline stifles creativity. But then who knows, maybe I would have a little monster who would NEED that kind of structure. *shrug*

  4. Never been a teacher but I raised 4 kids. Last kid would go out the door to the bus, hide until said bus passed by and then go home and say she "missed the bus", we would be at work by then and only found out when the school called weeks later.How do you 'motivate' that? Never did figure that out.

  5. Actually, up until the last couple of hundred years or so, such students would be apprenticed out to someone who could teach them useful life and professional skills. I'm not sure that it's fair to say that modernity has failed these students -- but it's close.

  6. What I used to think -- and my dad was a teacher, so I noticed this kind of thing and did think about it -- was that the basic problem was the public-school-ends-at-18 notion. Suppose we say, To heck with that, and let kids drop out of school at any age they want, assuming their parents agree. Eleven years old, fine. Sixteen? No problem.

    But the flip side is we let people back in when they ask, and maybe we bend over backwards to accommodate them with nighttime courses and one-on-one teaching sessions for tough courses and give credit for some "lifetime learning." (You're a journeyman carpenter? Three years at that level? Okay, that counts as three of the four electives you have to take before graduating. Welcome back to high school.)

    So you've got older people walking around your school yard, and they're all in school because they've decided they want to be in school. And for the love of Pete, is this so horrible?

    In fact, it still seems like a good idea. Okay, modern employers are very hot on not employing people who lack high school degrees, so it's not terribly clear how a kid who drops out in ninth grade can make aliving, but it's not terribly clear how a kid who should have dropped out in ninth grade but endured just to fail his final competency test, so I guess that balances out.

    We should break the educational lockstep, I'm trying to say. We like to brag that we're rich and creative and innovative, but the sad truth is, our public schools are still cast in the mold of the 1870's. We actually can afford to do differently, and maybe even to do better.

  7. Mike, the school-as-prison paradigm certainly has something to do with it. It PO'ed me that I was expected to do the job of a prison guard as well as the job of a teacher -- i.e., maybe 10% of my class was there for food and entertainment, they hadn't done a lick of school work since 4th grade and had no intention of ever doing any, and they had no business being in a classroom with students who had to learn. So my job with them was as prison guard -- incarcerate them until age 18. Which wasn't what I signed up to do.

    That said, most large school districts do have adult education programs leading to a GED, though as with everything else that's been cut back severely over the past ten years of economic collapse (and yes, it's been ten years, average wages of working people have been going down since 1973 but over the past ten years median *family* income started going down). And I'm not aware that many employers care about the difference between a GED and a high school diploma. But the cops want those kids off the street until age 18, 'cause they're just getting into trouble if they're on the streets, so... (shrug). In a police state you do what the police want you to do and pretend it's your own idea. Just sayin'.

    - Badtux the Educational Penguin


Ground rules: Comments that consist solely of insults, fact-free talking points, are off-topic, or simply spam the same argument over and over will be deleted. The penguin is the only one allowed to be an ass here. All viewpoints, however, are welcomed, even if I disagree vehemently with you.

WARNING: You are entitled to create your own arguments, but you are NOT entitled to create your own facts. If you spew scientific denialism, or insist that the sky is purple, or otherwise insist that your made-up universe of pink unicorns and cotton candy trees is "real", well -- expect the banhammer.

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.