School Under Fire for New Community Service-Based Disciplinary System
Keeping kids in line while they're at school is tough stuff. I know firsthand how much of a barrel of laughs it can be. I know I've mentioned this in some of my previous posts, but I taught kindergarten in China, so I've got a pretty decent idea of how rough it can be. I had originally gone in there thinking that Chinese kids were going to be predictable and robotic in their behavior because of social norms that I had assumed existed.
I was chasing toddlers around all day long. They were SO naughty! And they knew it. In fact, I think the only English phrase they learned from me during the entire four and a half months was “So naughty.” Discipline was a tough thing for me. I didn't like yelling at them (in fact, I never did), and I wasn't a fan of the way that they were disciplined by the Chinese teachers — a little more on the physical side.
So what is the right way to discipline unruly students?
A school in Portland, Oregon went about disciplining its students in, what I think, a way that is actually beneficial for the entire school, students and all.
However, some of the parents were a little bent out of shape because they said that the discipline was “humiliating” the kids. And what was so humiliating about the discipline? Well, parents weren't too fond of the fact that their child had to do some sort of community service, tasks like “picking up trash from hallways and paper towels from bathroom floors.”
One of the parents said, “My son has been humiliated, and he's frightened to go to school, and he feels sorry and has some esteem issues. I just don't think that's right.” My response to that is “If your child is afraid of being humiliated, don't act out.”
Officials from the school have come out and said that studies have shown that discipline that isn't suspension, detention, expulsion, or extra homework has actually been more beneficial.
“We're trying to see if the chores match the discipline,” said Christine Miles, spokesperson for Portland Public Schools. “If they make a mess, they have to clean it up. If they hurt someone, they have to apologize. If they are involved in a food fight, then part of the discipline is to correct their behavior by them cleaning it up.”
This seems pretty fair to me. The biggest concern that has come up is that students are doing things that are humiliating, like cleaning the bathrooms. Like I said before, if you don't want to have to clean the bathrooms, don't screw around. It's that simple. I remember cleaning bathrooms because I was screwing around, and I think I've turned out alright.
What do you guys think? Chime in on what you think is an appropriate way to discipline students.