Monday, May 22, 2006

T-A-R-D-Y................Why? Because I gotta!

The Los Angeles Times has published an education blog that I've been reading recently. Interesting stuff, but not sure whether or not it's link worthy.

One of the articles of late discusses Serrano High School, somewhere in the Inland Desert area near Victorville. Serrano has decided that those students that are tardy or truant to class will be cited and fined. The L.A. Times has a more in depth look at the subject. Needless to say, the comments on the piece are very polarized, with one group demanding accountability, while the other group says that it is unnecessarily harsh.

I used to use the standard school tardy policy when I first started teaching. Basically, after a pre-determined number of freebies, tardy students would be put on an "attendance contract" by the office. This meant that every time a student was tardy, I would write a referral and send the kid to the office for detention, trash cleanup, Saturday school, etc. It was a mess. It did nothing to deter the students and it ended up that kids were constantly being moved to the office. This caused them to miss class, demand make-up work, and cause a hell of a lot more trouble than it was worth.

So I changed my ways. I stated in my class policy that all students received 2 free tardies a semester. After the two free tardies, students would lose 5 points off their participation grade (starting at 100) for each time they were tardy. It has worked fairly well, and deterred most people from being tardy. However, I still have a massive amount of habitual tardies during my zero period class (at least 3 a day), and the grade impact is changing little in their attitude.

I'm thinking of different ways to change it for next year, but I'm afraid of going too far and alienating the clientele I'm serving. The way I look at it, Seniors in high school should get little or no leeway in regards to showing up on time. They are about to go into a world that will fire them if they are late to work.

By the way, I'm all for fining the families of students who are habitually tardy. Make it small to start and raise the price for each consecutive tardy. However that is a total pipe dream. Right now we have an idiot District Attorney, Norm Vroman, who is more interested in legalizing weed and going to prison for tax evasion, than going after kids who are constantly truant.

So, how do we adequately prepare them?
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