Kids Forced to Clean School So It Doesn't Have to Hire Janitors

student cleaning chalkboard at schoolIn a controversial move that has started debates among parents and teachers across the country, a public charter school outside Phoenix, Arizona has eliminated janitors and uses children to clean the schools. But is it a good move? It's arguable.


The Armadillo Technical Institute has its students, grades 6 through 12, complete 30 minutes of cleaning after lunch. From sweeping the floors to taking out the trash, and even cleaning the bathrooms, students tackle each part of the building. The duties and assignments rotate, however, so no one student is stuck on toilet duty more than two or three times per year.

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The school's executive director, Kim De Costa, is defending her stance despite some dissent. "We really wanted a school where the students took ownership and make it their own," she tells NPR.

The school does have a maintenance crew for its bigger projects but the daily cleaning tasks are left to the student body. And the goal? To emphasize respect, cleanliness, and responsibility.

But is it a good idea? Not at all.

Students go to school to learn. Sure, you can argue that learning life skills like how to manage general upkeep are valuable, but not in an education-focused space. Yes, kids should be encouraged and required to pick up after themselves. They shouldn't leave a mess on their desk, in their classroom, on the lunch table, or in the restrooms. But cleaning toilets and taking out the trash is not part of a curriculum.

Will there be adults around, making sure kids are properly cleaning the dirty spaces? Can resources be allocated to inspections? Are all those harmful cleaning chemicals safe for kids to use? There are plenty of still unanswered questions.

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But the most important one is: Is cleaning the school the students' responsibility?

Simply put, no. It's their responsibility to respect the building, it's staff, and each other. It's on them to make sure that they leave the space in better condition when they found it. But it's not on them to take turns taking trash to the dumpster and cleaning the toilets.

Have them keep their own area clean, but not the whole joint.

Do you think this is a good idea?



Image via Viacheslav Nikolaenko/shutterstock

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