Monday, November 28, 2005

The Suspension Vacation

Suspensions are overused in today's hands-off-parenting world. This Washington Post article highlights some of the problems caused by spotlighting two sisters suspended for five days for fighting. The teenagers spend their time shopping, lounging around, and watching TV. There's no need for me to state the obvious about that. But a few things did catch my eye.

Kymber and Shawnte were suspended for five days, and the principal later told them that they can make up the work they missed, their mother said.
"But why couldn't they have just sent the work home? I wish we could have had that for them to do at home -- it would have kept them motivated," said Sanders, 33, an operating room coordinator at Inova Fairfax Hospital and a member of a National Guard unit. "I know they're being punished. But are they really being punished? I don't understand the value that they're trying to teach children."

Argh. First, the school can't just send the work home immediately because it probably isn't ready. Most (good) teachers' lesson plans are very fluid, and are adjusted from day to day. A teacher can only give you a general idea of what the class will be doing in five days. Nevertheless many schools do require that of teachers. It was a real burden having to take the time to prepare packets to send home to suspended kids, especially when I knew that what I was sending might not end up being what the rest of the class was doing. However, in some cases, that burden was more than offset by having a break from the troublemaker for a few days!

Second, why is the parent letting her kids have such fun on their suspension? Take away the cell phones, car keys, and TVs. Get out the cleaning supplies! If the school didn't send work home, then have them read a chapter or two ahead in every textbook.

1 comment:

deanna said...

This article really bothered me, too. Per the quote you chose, the obvious problem here: what good is suspension IF you can change the rules afterward. The parent knew that if she complained, they would give in and let the girls make up the work. Pointless waste of time!! Secondly, just plain old bad parenting. When I was a kid, and my parents were both teachers, it didn't matter if my parents agreed with the punishment or not - I was IN TROUBLE! Apparently, this parent disagreed enough with the punishment not to make it one. I think that's pretty clear.

I have other gripes with this article, some I wrote about and others I just thought were obvious! like you said!!