Don't subordinate discipline to students' college hopes - East Valley Tribune: Opinion

Don't subordinate discipline to students' college hopes

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Posted: Friday, March 19, 2004 11:01 pm | Updated: 4:41 pm, Thu Oct 6, 2011.

One issue raised by the recent imbroglio over how a Scottsdale high school student was wearing his cap is how parents react to learning of a rule violation by their child.

While the mother of the cap-wearing student, Marlon Morgan, has indicated a willingness to help her son learn from his experience defying school rules and procedures, often too many parents ignore any report of trouble or are too quick to fix blame elsewhere.

“My kid can do no wrong,” was how one educator put it to the Tribune’s Beth Lucas — a notion often born of a tendency in our modern society to avoid taking personal responsibility.

When parent leaders met with Scottsdale’s high school principals Thursday, instead of asking administrators to make sure rules are clearly set forth and fairly administered, they advised the principals to spare kids certain penalties because it might prevent them from getting into a good college.

Citing an increased interest by colleges in students' disciplinary and criminal records as well as their academic records in making admissions decisions, these parents actually recommended that principals withhold serious penalties such as suspension, based on how it would look on their teens’ records.

We have criticized hard-line rules such as “zero-tolerance” policies, which often unjustly penalize minor violators as severely as serious offenders. But when rules are clearly written and announced, and fairly administered, then the responsibility to make sure a child follows them falls not on the school but on the parent and the student.

Parents are missing the entire reason behind why a student might need discipline when they worry too much about being unable to get their teen into a “name” university. Teen disciplinary problems are a concern for today, not tomorrow. If they are not dealt with, one violation can become two, three or more, and pose far greater problems than narrowed-down college prospects.

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