Noble Schools’ Discipline Policy Sure to Hurt Learning

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If Valerie Strauss, The Washington Post’s education blogger, was trying to incite her readers, she certainly succeeded, when she wrote about the Noble Charter School network in Chicago. Quoting a Chicago Tribune story, Strauss shares how students at Noble schools are suspended for things like talking out, not looking at the teacher and slouching.

School leaders say that the schools have high expectations. Noble Superintendent Michael Milkie told the Tribune that the schools use the “broken window” philosophy. “If you allow a lot of windows to be broken, that house is going to turn into one where lots of damage is going on.”

Give an inch. . .

So, Milkie and his cronies, Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel among them, believe that if the Noble School children are given the proverbial inch, they’ll take the proverbial mile — an archaic theory with little supporting research.

Not only would Milkie be hard pressed to produce anything valid to suggest that this rigid discipline style improves behavior, it’s sure to make students hate learning. Many experts, Alfie Kohn and John Hattie among them, argue that rigor and meanness turn students, especially reluctant learners, against school.

So, Noble Schools may be filled with timely, quiet, frightened children. You’re not likely to find many engaged, excited independent learners there, though.

What a shame.

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Mark Barnes is the Founder of Times 10 Publications, which produces the popular Hack Learning Series, The uNseries, and other books from some of education's most reputable teachers and leaders. Barnes presents internationally on assessment, connected education, and Hack Learning. Connect with @markbarnes19 on Twitter.

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