$5 for Detention? School Charges Students Fines for Breaking the Rules


At some charter high schools in Chicago, kids are quite literally paying the price for their misconduct, with detentions that carry a $5 price tag.

Students at the Noble Network of Charter Schools are given demerits for infractions like chewing gum, having untied shoes or not looking a teacher in the eye. Four demerits require an after-school detention along with a $5 fine. Students who accrue 12 or more detentions must take a behavior-improvement course for $140.

Last year, the school collected nearly $188,647 in fines, which administrators say offset the cost of running the detention program. They believe that cracking down on minor rule-breaking discourages more serious behavior problems.

By “sweating the small stuff … we don’t have issues with the big stuff,” Superintendent Michael Milkie told the AP.

Milke insists that teaching students to follow the rules creates a structured learning environment where they can succeed. The network has an average ACT score of 20.3, which is higher than at the city’s other non-selective public schools, and more than 90 percent of Noble graduates enroll in college.

But parents and advocacy groups criticize the system for overly strict rules, and charging fees to families that can’t afford the expense.

“We are absolutely appalled that Noble is padding its pockets off the backs of hardworking people by fining them,” Alexi Nunn Freeman of Advancement Project told CBS.

Matthew Mayer, a professor in the graduate school of education at Rutgers University, called the fine system “highly inappropriate” because it likely has no bearing on students’ academic performance and disproportionately hurts poor families.

“It’s almost medieval in nature. It’s a form a financial torture, for lack of a better term,” Mayer told the AP.

Parents who gathered for a recent protest echoed Mayer’s sentiments. ““Invest in us, stop arresting us,” they chanted.

What do you think? Do monetary fines for misbehavior make sense, or is the system unfair?



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