Tuesday, August 14, 2012

The Olympic Games might be over, but not the games in the Chicago Public Schools!

Discipline is key to an effective classroom, but over the years the word discipline was demonized to sound mean and sinister?  Don't athletes need discipline to accomplish their goals? Just look at the Olympic athletes over the past two weeks.  Don't musicians need discipline to refine their craft?

People need self-discipline everyday whether at work, at home, or at play, but all of a sudden discipline is a dirty word.  Well, it isn't "all of a sudden", it's been creeping into school systems for years now and the result is  a whole bunch of people with no self-control but great self-esteem.  

That being said, with the 2012-2013 school year upon us,  the new School Code of Conduct from the Chicago Public Schools is out!  I wrote the article below, back in May, about how the City Council and CPS believed that there were too many out-of-school suspensions, so they went forth with their proposed plan of "Restorative Justice", as well as, cutting the number of days a student can be suspended by about half.  It is about the numbers, after all. 

So, I just read through 41 pages of directions, explanations, consequences (or lack thereof) that is in the new School Code of Conduct.  My mind is spinning...not because I can't read, but because I can!  

The levels of misconduct are labeled 1-6 and are described as follows:

 Group 1 lists behaviors that are inappropriate.
 Group 2 lists behaviors that disrupt.
 Group 3 lists behaviors that seriously disrupt.
 Group 4 lists behaviors that very seriously disrupt.
 Group 5 lists behaviors that most seriously disrupt.
 Group 6 lists behaviors that are illegal and most seriously disrupt.

For the last two Groups, 5 and 6, limited suspensions, expulsion hearings, and calling the police are the interventions and consequences, but for Groups 1-4 things like a Self-Reflection Sheet, Peace/Healing Circles, and Peer Juries are some of the first measures administration is supposed to take with students. I say administration because, as quoted from the SCC,  "The school principal or designee  is responsible for assigning the appropriate interventions and consequences to address the inappropriate behavior and must also respect the rights of  any student accused of inappropriate behavior."  

The students, I am sure, will love these new "effective responses" because all of this will most likely take place during their class time.

It's a good thing the school day was lengthened,  so now there is enough time to waste on this nonsense and still get in a full day's work.  I can see the increase in the test scores already, can't you?

You can read the entire School Code of Conduct by clicking this link:


  1. self-reflection sheets, peace/healing circles? Wow, I'm so sorry that your already difficult job has been made that much harder. A great teacher is a HUGE influence on a child's life and now instead of being able to take action, they have to have a student write a self-reflection sheet. I can't say that without laughing. What is that? It certainly isn't a deterrent or punishment. Thanks for the great post. I hope that this nonsense is short lived for everyone's sake.
    Paul R. Hewlett

    1. I remember the fear of being hit with a paddle, sent to the principal's office, and in my case - sent to my mother (because she was a teacher in my grade school). Now those were deterrents. I can't imagine what I would have tried to get away with if the biggest "threat" was spending school time to fill out a self-reflection sheet!

  2. I agree. I had an ex-Marine for a principal in grade school and if you were sent to his office you knew what was coming. The paddle. And the tears would come after that. I can tell you that it was everyone's goal to stay out of his office. I'm not sure we would have felt that way if we would have had to participate in a healing circle.

    Paul R. Hewlett