Chicago-based charter school network Noble Street College Prep is at the center of controversy over their costly method of disciplining students.

Noble Street students are charged fines for seemingly minor infractions like using a cell phone or having untied shoelaces. The school says that by sweating the small stuff, they have cut down on more serious infractions like fighting or drugs, and that grades and test scores are up.

Critics say fining students is just inappropriate, and that it disproportionately impacts (and potentially forces out) low income students.

Last year alone, the school collected over $190,000 in disciplinary fees from students.

From Yahoo News:

“‘We think this just goes over the line … fining someone for having their shoelaces untied (or) a button unbuttoned goes to harassment, not discipline,’ said Julie Woestehoff, executive director of the Chicago advocacy group Parents United for Responsible Education, which staged protests last week over the policy after Woestehoff said she was approached by an upset parent

Students at Noble schools receive demerits for various infractions — four for having a cellphone or one for untied shoelaces. Four demerits within a two-week period earn them a detention and $5 fine. Students who get 12 detentions in a year must attend a summer behavior class that costs $140.

Superintendent Michael Milkie said the policy teaches the kids — overwhelmingly poor, minority and often hoping to be the first in their families to attend college — to follow rules and produces in a structured learning environment. He points to the network’s average ACT score of 20.3, which is higher than at the city’s other non-selective public schools, and says more than 90 percent of Noble graduates enroll in college.”

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Do you support Noble Street’s disciplinary system?

Is fining low-income students for chewing gum or having a cellphone crossing the line?

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