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Parents Complain When School Disciplines Kids with Chores

The Short of It

At Cesar Chavez Elementary School in North Portland, Ore., kids who act out aren't getting detention or visits to the principal's office. They're assigned chores to do. And some parents don't like it.

The Lowdown

According to KPTV, Cesar Chavez Elementary School created its community service program so students don't miss class time when they're in trouble and schoolwork isn't used as punishment. That way, negative behavior doesn't affect learning. But parents are concerned about the program's effects.

"I don't think it's right. I feel like if a student gets in trouble, I'm fine with him having detention or having extra school work," Jeff Hagadorn, the father of a first-grader told KPTV. "My son has been humiliated, and he's frightened to go to school, and he feels sorry, has some esteem issues. I just don't think that's right."

While parents are worried that disciplined kids might be scrubbing toilets, sinks or walls, the district says they're doing lighter work—usually picking up trash or pencils around school. Hagadorn's son Christian said he had to pick up trash in the street and towels in the bathroom. The punishments take place after school with adult supervision.

The district has used the community service program for several years, and it says it has had fewer dropouts and expulsions since the program started. Although, the school recently changed how the kids were being punished, and since parents started complaining, the program has been put on hold.

The Upshot

To me, community service doesn't sound like such a bad idea. It seems like punishment after school hours would be less embarrassing than during the day, and most of us think it's "character building" for kids to occasionally do chores. But theory and practice are two very different things.

No one likes seeing their own child punished, especially if it's in a different way from what they'd do at home. If a student like Christian is feeling self-esteem issues or if the punishment isn't working for a particular kid, I wish it were easier for school districts to adapt "protocols" for them. I know it would be hard for schools to carry out, but in an ideal world, punishment would fit the child.

What do you think? Are you for or against chores as punishment at school?

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