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Dollars for detentions?

Posted Tuesday, February 21, 2012, at 12:56 PM

Can you imagine if you were fined every time you received a detention in high school? Even more so, imagine that having an untied shoe or missing button could contribute to such fines. For students of Noble Street College Prep in Chicago, it's not a figment of their imagination. Click here for the story.

I went to a private school through eighth grade and I definitely got into plenty of trouble, especially as I became a "big fish in a small pond" as one of 14 eighth graders. One of my most memorable offenses consisted of throwing a yogurt covered raisin at the principal -- and hitting him on his bald head. Sweeping the gym floor during recess was my punishment and it was totally worth it.

There was also a time when I received three detentions in two days. During one of the detentions, I had to copy the dictionary page featuring the word "respect."

Plenty of other times, I got the opportunity to "hold up the wall" outside the classroom for pushing the class clown routine a little too far.

I'm guessing if I would have had to pay fines for those infractions, I would have shaped up long before earning myself a three-day suspension. Maybe, I would have learned that actions have real consequences.

But, maybe the fear of paying a fine would have caused me to internalize things more and eventually blow up on someone to "earn" my fine and cause even more problems.

I'm not sure.

There are people coming out on both sides of Noble's approach. I think if it works for them, maybe it's OK because no one is forced to go there and no one is forced to behave badly and pay a fine.

Opponents say the fines are hindering some students or keeping some students out of the school altogether.

Other critics say the school should use positive reinforcement. I agree with that. If I had something to work toward, I don't think I would have gotten into as much trouble.

That was the case for one of my lyrical heroes George Watsky, as this link shows. The link does include some mild language, but it's kind of an inspiring story for others who have found a way to use their energy in a positive way.

Any how, I'm sure y'all have differing opinions, so what do you think about a prep school charging fines for detentions?

Showing comments in chronological order
[Show most recent comments first]

Similar to fines in the criminal justice system, I feel fines unfairly target the less fortunate while providing little consequence to the financially well-off, who can pay the darn thing and move on with their lives. Even at a prep school, there are almost always scholarship students -- bright young people the admissions committee hopes to provide a leg up through a world class private education they would otherwise have no way to afford.

I'm certain students generally know who these scholarship students are -- they don't live in the neighborhoods or suburbs the full tuition kids do, and it would probably not be too difficult to surreptitiously (or even not so much) untie a shoelace or pop a button from these individuals, causing them to incur a fine, just for entertainment's sake. Because as a high school student thinking though the consequences of one's actions is generally not what we do best.

Sure, there is the risk the perpetrator would get caught and incur a heavier fine. However, there is a good chance that student's parent would pay the fine simply to make the problem go away, or if the student was required to pay it him or herself, their allowance is probably generous enough to more than cover it with plenty left over for designer jeans and downloads.

I've always felt monetary penalties unfairly target the poorer.

-- Posted by AmyPeterson on Fri, Feb 24, 2012, at 7:08 AM

Personally, I like the hard labor option better. Make them clean toilets, wash windows, scrub lockers, clean the kitchen etc. Earn their way out of detention so to speak.

-- Posted by Leah Cauthron on Mon, Feb 27, 2012, at 12:55 PM

Haha, Leah, you sound like Newt. The funny thing about that suggestion is I actually enjoyed sweeping the floor (especially if I'd contributed to it being dirty), cleaning the chalk boards (yes, my school had CHALK boards), etc.

I definitely wouldn't have enjoyed a fine. I did, however, enjoy when we could work together as a class for rewards, such as watching a movie or having a pizza party.

I remember both the negative and positive reinforcements, but I think the positive reinforcements were more effective. I don't remember as many positive reinforcements in junior high, and maybe that contributed to my higher rate of acting out in class.

It's an interesting discussion nonetheless.

-- Posted by Gabe Licht on Mon, Feb 27, 2012, at 1:15 PM

Chalk boards! Absolutely. Who says smart boards are so smart? I think we were each assigned a day (and it would likely only be one day every quarter) to stay after school. wash the erasers in solution and scrub the chalkboards, and do some other tidying up -- I think we took all the chalk off, wiped down the chalk tray, and replaced the really short stubs of chalk with new.

I loved it! I would have pushed a broom around with our hilarious janitor, too.

Cleaning lockers in the locker room as a high schooler with in-school suspension for skipping class? Far less fun! Leah has a point!

-- Posted by AmyPeterson on Mon, Feb 27, 2012, at 4:24 PM

I just have a good debate question on this.

You can't spank kids, time out does not work for most kids, parents will sue your butt if you look or yell at the kid, can't fine the kid if they did wrong cuss it hinders the poor, can't make them do physical labor cuss now it might be breaking the law of child labor law, and I am sure there is more.(early in the morning) BUT kids can cuss at thier pastor cuss he doesn't want a phone in confirmation class, girls dress sleazy and then cry when boys treat them wrong, kids get bullied for whatever reason, kids cuss and hit thier own parents or siblings, kids treat ppl in authority over all like crap, heaar them cussing up a storm in any public place, drive reckless, use bikes in a skate park, throw trash down, want to be paid instead of working hard, and I could go on. So what is the solution then?

I am a parent that raised my kids the sameway I was raised and it still amazes me when I hear ppl say "you have wonderful children". Now I also know that my children do crap that they shouldn't, BUT they also know that if I find out, crap is going to hit the fan!!! I do not even tolorate thier friends coming into my house and not use manners with a clean mouth!! Why cuss I have no problem in spanking my children right on the spot, washing thier mouth out, do hard labor for very wrong actions, taught them to hold that door open for thier elders, and so on and so forth. They are 20 and 18. Oh and the other thing that I hate seeing is noone teaching these kids to respect the flag or even to take off thier hats when they are inside a building. Does anyone on here know what the last one means? (hats) ask a vet if you don't.

So I say, lets take back being adults and teaching these kids how to mind thier actions. Yes some ppl get out of hand, but the majority of ppl have a handle on the situation. I gaurantee that these kids wouldn't be in the news as much if us parents quit blaming society and start blaming themselves. As far as the poor is concerned, please. I was that kid, faught for my self, had manners cuss I was scared of my dad's wrath. Not cuss he spanked but he could ground me for another whole summer and stick to it! I said yes maam/sir, did hard labor, and for the most part kept my nose clean, cuss my daddy wasn't going to bail me out! So most poor kids learn real quick how to either go for the gold in getting in trouble or to keep thier nose clean. Oh that can be said for the rest of the kids too. So please quit blaming poor/rich on why these kids can't be taught the hard knock life! It's the adults that FEEL bad, not the real LOGIC behind the truth.

Now saying my piece on this. Have at it and tear me apart. :)

-- Posted by acerdj on Tue, Apr 3, 2012, at 6:11 AM

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As the junior staff writer here at The Daily Reporter, I enjoy interacting with my readers. This blog will allow me to do that. Whether voicing my opinion and looking for response or asking readers to weigh in on a specific topic I am writing about, I look forward to getting to know my readers and what they think.
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