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Hard Labor As School Discipline

by TChris

Sentencing an 11 year old to hard labor because she didn’t do her homework is an outrageous abuse of power (the student should have told her principal to pound salt), but equally abusive was the principal’s decision to terminate the employment of a teacher who took pity on the poor girl.

As discipline for neglecting homework, a fourth grade student in the East Lynne (Missouri) School District was ordered to pick up rocks from a playground near the road in front of the school. Teacher Christa Price complained to Superintendent Dan Doerhoff that the punishment was both extreme and dangerous. Doerhoff didn’t care about the girl’s safety (or about the image of “school as penitentiary” he was creating), so Price used her free period to help the girl pick up the rocks.

At contract time in March, Doerhoff recommended firing Price, who until then had glowing performance evaluations and was liked by parents and praised by colleagues.

Doerhoff cited the teacher’s “insubordination” as grounds for termination. Even more troubling is Doerhoff’s refusal to sign the certification required for Price to find another teaching job.

To their credit, seven of the ten classroom teachers in the district resigned to protest Doerhoff’s autocratic style. Doerhoff didn’t learn from the protest; he simply filled the positions with other teachers. Nor did he learn from the girl’s perceptive comment that being forced to haul rocks in a five gallon bucket "made me feel like a slave." He does allow, however, that the adverse publicity might make him think twice about assigning hard labor to fourth graders.

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  • Re: Hard Labor As School Discipline (none / 0) (#1)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 12:59:21 PM EST
    Jeralyn, What's your problem? Harsh punishment builds character. We need Spartans, not heirs of Pericles. (What we could really use is one good Aristophanes right now.)

    Re: Hard Labor As School Discipline (none / 0) (#2)
    by kdog on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 12:59:21 PM EST
    There is one principal who missed his calling, he/she should have been a prison warden. Unbelievable.

    Re: Hard Labor As School Discipline (none / 0) (#3)
    by nolo on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 12:59:21 PM EST
    Let me guess-- this is John Bolton's long-lost cousin or something? What a tool.

    Re: Hard Labor As School Discipline (none / 0) (#4)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 12:59:21 PM EST
    Seven of the ten remaining teachers walk in support of the one that was terminated, and this fool has the nerve to claim that it had nothing to do with his idiotic punishments. There are better, safer, and more intelligent methods for disciplining children. This guy should switch to the DOC, his attitude would fit in fine there.

    Re: Hard Labor As School Discipline (none / 0) (#5)
    by soccerdad on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 12:59:21 PM EST
    The country continues its march backwards. This is a small incident, but the behavior is being seen more frequently and in more venues. People have noted the DOC. Another couple of years and we can say that the "Enlightenment", has ended.

    Re: Hard Labor As School Discipline (none / 0) (#6)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 12:59:21 PM EST
    I wonder if the student now does her homework? I do not see a problem so long as there are not safety concerns(on school grounds and under supervision) and this is a part of a progressive system of discipline where students and parents are given warning and notice of the possibility of the punishment and why and how it will be implemented. There is so little discipline in the classroom these days and the balance of power in the classroom has now shifted to the students. Perhaps a taste of what can await a person who does not take education seriously will help the students much more than ,say, in-school suspension?

    Re: Hard Labor As School Discipline (none / 0) (#7)
    by Dadler on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 12:59:21 PM EST
    Good for this teacher, the district oughtta get run through the wringer. That said, I have to add this: When I was in daycare as a kid in southern California in the early and mid 70's, our punishment for being bad on the playground was to get a decent-sized rock from the open field next door, then carry that rock above your waist for half an hour. And the daycare teacher had to approve the size of the rock. Five to seven pounders as I recall. Get in trouble again and you were carrying around two rocks. You always knew some unpleasantness had just gone down when you saw seven or eight kids hauling their rocks around the kickball court during a game. I was always worried that one of the kids with a rock was going to get into a fight and bust another kid in the head with his boulder. Almost happened a couple of times, but never did. Funny how some things never change. And not for the better. Why not let just let Phil Spector dole out discipline to these kids?

    Re: Hard Labor As School Discipline (none / 0) (#8)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 12:59:21 PM EST
    I believe in discipline, but the more appropriate punishment here would have been to simply give the child an F on the assignment and be done with it OR have her turn in the assignment with a half-letter grade penalty for it being late.