In Chicago, ten percent of children are educated through the Noble Network of Charter Schools. They operate 18 school campuses and serve about 12,000 students. But after former teachers went to NPR to reveal a scandal, they accused the charter school network of something outrageous. They said the network uses “dehumanizing” practices toward all twelve thousand of their students.
In the NPR report, one interesting fact stood out – the charter school network had a very high teacher turnover rate. The reporters asked why? And their research pointed to the charter school network’s “culture” of discipline.
The discipline system in the school system is based on demerit points. That means thousands of students must not fall out of line with the rules or face “rather extreme” consequences.
“Any four demerits (such as a failure to wear a black belt) within a two-week period triggers automatic 2-3 hour detention. Students who rack up 13 or more detentions during a school year have to attend ‘character development’ class at a cost, until this year, of $140. Students who get 26 detentions have to attend two character development classes. Students who receive more than 36 detentions in a year are automatically ineligible for promotion to the next grade.”
It doesn’t matter if they’re a good student and score well on tests if a student gets a lot of detentions they would not progress.
When I was in high school, I received only one detention during my four years in the system. So a student who is receiving 13 indeed could use some help to change their behavior. That seems like a lot to me.
There are a lot of actions that can earn students demerits according to the Noble Charter Schools Student Handbook. It looks like Chicago-area schools are much harder on their students than in other cities across the country!
The following are actions that can earn students demerits toward detention.
Tardiness to class by more than three minutes
Possessing soda, energy drinks, or chips that are not sold in school
Being in the hallway without an escort
Possessing a permanent marker
The rules are stringent in this Chicago school network. And the teachers and administration are not shy about administering discipline when it is needed.
One former student and teacher shared his experience while working with the Noble network of charter schools. The rules forced him to kick a student out of the classroom because he forgot his belt.
“This said student had not been at the school for a few days, so that was his first day back. He told me, ‘You have no idea the type of night I had but here I am at school, and I get kicked out of class because of a belt.’ Those words broke my heart.”
Because teachers take the job to educate students, the harsh discipline the Chicago school uses can make teachers look for employment in the public school system.
“We have (bathroom) escorts, and they rarely come, so we end up walking out, and that gets us in trouble,” a student told NPR.