"I know no safe depository of the ultimate powers of the society but the people themselves; and if we think them not enlightened enough to exercise their control with a wholesome discretion, the remedy is not to take it from them, but to inform their discretion by education. This is the true corrective of abuses of constitutional power." - Thomas Jefferson 1820

"There is a growing technology of testing that permits us now to do in nanoseconds things that we shouldn't be doing at all." - Dr. Gerald Bracey author of Rotten Apples in Education

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Thursday, February 16, 2012

School Choice Week in Chicago: Pay Fines or Be Scruntinized by Police Surveillance Cameras.

Charters are privately run government schools.  In Missouri, they are under the same mandates and common core standards as traditional public schools.  They are taxpayer funded which means the taxpayer is paying private companies to deliver education.

Do they do a better job than traditional schools?  Some do, some don't.  But what one charter school in Chicago does do better than a traditional public school is levy fines for bad behavior and minor infractions.  It fines a child's parent for a child's untied shoes or bringing chips to school.  While teaching lessons to children, the charter school administration pads the coffers of the charter school (did we mention it is taxpayer funded?) and makes a tidy profit from bad (and perhaps just plain adolescent) student behavior.

From The Chicago Tribune:

A charter network praised by Mayor Rahm Emanuel for its academically competitive schools is charging students $5 for minor disciplinary infractions like having untied shoelaces, bringing chips to school or dozing off in class. Critics say the network is using the fines to push out troubled students so it can boost graduation rates, but school leaders say tougher discipline has led to a safer school environment.

The Noble Network of Charter Schools, which runs 10 high schools in the city, has raised nearly $200,000 from the disciplinary fees last year and almost $400,000 since the 2008-09 school year, according to three parent and student advocacy groups who held a joint news conference Monday at
Chicago Public Schools headquarters.

There is a video of the news conference and protest on the site.

If this has been a great money maker for the charter school, maybe the money should be returned to the school district and the taxpayers.  Why should the charter school be keeping the money since it is taxpayer funded?  Think of it.  The charter school could return the fines to the Chicago public school district to defray the cost of hiring policemen to patrol in the traditional public schools and setting up surveillance cameras.  From "Policing Chicago Public Schools":

Last summer, Chicago Public Schools (CPS) proposed purchasing new surveillance cameras for fourteen (14) high schools at a cost of $7 million dollars.  The Chicago Tribune reported that:

Footage from up to 80 high-definition cameras could be monitored by CPS and will be fed to a nearby police station, then linked into the citywide network of surveillance cameras. That network includes cameras operated by the Chicago Police Department, Office of Emergency Management and Communications and Chicago Transit Authority. Images from the cameras can also be viewed on officials’ cellphones.”  

The Chicago Police Department (CPD) charges CPS $25 million a year for two police officers at each high school. But because the district hasn’t paid the full amount in previous years, it will have to pay $70 million in the 2011 school year.  CPS estimates that it costs $75,000 a year to have a police officer stationed at a school for daily 8 hour shifts.  A coalition of student researchers, called Voices of Youth in Chicago Education (VOYCE), found that:  “In 2010, Chicago Public Schools spent $51.4 million on school-based security guards, about 15 times more than the $3.5 million it spent on college and career coaches.” As education budgets shrink, it makes sense to question schools’ heavy investment in policing, surveillance and security.

Do you think traditional public schools should try fining students for poor behavior?  Would it cut down on the enormous cost of hiring police officers to be stationed in public schools?  The above paragraphs are a sad testament to children running the public school asylum in Chicago.

If attending school is seen as a responsibility rather than a right, and you have to pay to retain your right to be in school if you misbehave, the act of attending school becomes an act of becoming accountable, rather than being entitled.  Maybe the parents of the charter school students who pay the fines would rather do that than having their children under camera surveillance piped into police departments.  Again, from the Tribune article:

Some Noble parents, though, have seen the discipline policy work.

After paying more than $300 for behavior classes and detention fees, Kimberly Davis said her daughter is now on track to graduate from Comer.
  (link on Comer's statistics added by MEW)

"You have to buy into the program," Davis said. "For (her daughter), it worked."

Here is an article from The Chicago Sun-Times about Noble's educational testing results:

Only one of nine Chicago multi-site charter operators — Noble Street — beat the districtwide average of all Chicago public schools for the percent of students passing state tests last spring on every campus it oversees. 

Is the reason the Noble students pass because of the educational teaching or fining students into compliance (and getting rid of the rule breakers), or a combination of both?  Groups can protest the fines levied on children, but the parents have the right to pay the fines or withdraw their child from the school.  If the parents don't like this practice, they can re-enter the traditional public school.  What might be a more meaningful protest is to question where the money from those fines are funneled. 

It's sad the school choices in Chicago have evolved into paying to stay into school or facing police cameras.  I guess dipping into the pocketbook of parents has greater impact than appealing to student sense of good behavior and learning to abide by the rules because it's the moral way to live.

1 comment:

  1. Here's another blog about this same issue:



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