'Community Service Plan' Forces Kids Who Get Detention to Clean Up School

child cleaning blackboard

Parents of students at a Portland, Oregon elementary school were outraged to learn that the district's disciplinary policy has replaced  detention and additional homework with chores and a little light housekeeping around the classroom. Rather than stare mindlessly into space -- how big a punishment is that, really? -- kids are now being asked to pick up pencils, paper, and litter in the hallways.  

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One dad was reportedly so upset after learning that his first grader had to put some bathroom towels into a wastebasket, he said he and his wife were moving the boy to another school that doesn't have the same policy.

Meanwhile, two fourth grade students said they like the "community service plan" because it's teaching their peers to behave. 

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Personally, I'm with the kids. While I wouldn't want my child to be forced to scrub a bathroom toilet for misbehaving, I'd certainly prefer he do something constructive rather than gaze out a window in detention. I also think assigning additional homework as a punishment creates a negative association with learning. 

And this whole concept isn't a new one. I can remember kids who were acting up in my grade school being sent outside to clap out erasers or wash down the blackboards after dismissal. Typically, they only had to do it once because watching all their friends line up and go home while they were forced to tidy up the classroom is simply no fun. 

I'm such a fan of this method of discipline, I use it at home. If the kids are fighting, and I tell them to stop and they don't, one gets handed a dust pan and broom and the other has to fold laundry.

If one is mean to the other, I ask him to apologize and then set the table for his brother that night. I think having to do something is not only a more effective deterrent than a simple "time out" but also it helps the whole family at the same time.  

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So far, the district said the program has been successful, with the number of students dropping out or being expelled declining.

Funny, it's pretty effective at my house too. One day, after I gave my boys a warning to stop their bickering,  I swear I heard one of my sons whisper to the other, "Shhhh! Or she'll make us work!"

Ha! Looks like this strategy is working, pun intended! 

What would you do if your kid's school had a disciplinary plan like this in place?


Image © JoHo/shutterstock

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