What do you think about being fined for breaking the rules at school?
A charter school in Chicago that includes ten high schools has a unique policy in dealing with students who violate the rules. The Noble Network of Charter Schools collected $200,000.00 last year in fines from students who were late for school or a class, chewing gum, dress code violations and other infractions. The money is used to offset the cost of teachers and staff who stay after school to administer detention.
The school superintendent, Michael Milkie, explained in a statement that “The goal is to promote positive behavior by staff and students and produce a learning environment that is conducive to learning and college preparation.” Noble’s schools have 6,500 students and a waiting list of 3,000 wanting to enroll. “We sweat the small stuff,” Milkie said. “We think these are life skills that will help students.”
Not all of the parents agree. Some see the system as another burden for poor families. One parent sees the system as a tax on black and Latino families. “Noble is forcing low-income parents to choose between paying the rent and keeping their child in school.” A march protesting the disciplinary system was held in February, 2012.
When a student earns a certain number of demerits in a two-week period, they are given detention which has a $5.00 fee. Students with 12 detentions are referred to a class at a cost of $140.00. The school does accommodate families who can’t pay. There are parents who support the rules claiming the discipline policy works. One mother said her daughter is on track to graduate but not until after paying more than $300.00 for behavior classes and discipline fees. Kimberly Davis commented that “You have to buy into the program.” For her daughter, “it worked.”
What do you think of this method of enforcing the rules? What are the penalties at your school for violations? Does detention work or is it just a chance to get out of a class? Does your school have a reward system for good behavior and academic performance?