Punishment Needs to Fit the Crime

If it could be shown conclusively that the tardy sweeps
instituted by Dean of Students Mani Corzo were solely responsible
for the dramatic drop in tardiness over the last three years at
Gilroy High School, The Dispatch would favor retaining the
practice.
If it could be shown conclusively that the tardy sweeps instituted by Dean of Students Mani Corzo were solely responsible for the dramatic drop in tardiness over the last three years at Gilroy High School, The Dispatch would favor retaining the practice.

However, about the same time that tardy sweeps were instituted, so were citizenship grades.

Being tardy is one factor that lowers a student’s citizenship grade. A student with a low citizenship grade cannot participate in school activities, including sports. It is quite conceivable that a large number of students decided that the pleasures of extra curricular activities were worth the pain of punctuality.

On the other hand, there is no question but that staying out of class for an extra eight minutes disrupts instructional time, certainly for the tardy student, but to a lesser degree for the teacher and the rest of the class when the student finally sashays in.

Being assigned to tardy sweep duty has the advantage of being an immediate consequence. Immediate consequences are valuable learning experiences. But so are logical consequences.

And it is extremely illogical to say to students, “Education is valuable. Therefore classroom instructional time is valuable. Therefore you must be on time for class. Therefore, if you are tardy, we will hold you out of class for an additional five to ten minutes.” Tardy sweeps send students a mixed message.

The students perceive the lack of logic in this practice. Some of them claim that tardy sweeps do not work. Others call them ludicrous. The students may be wrong about the effectiveness of tardy sweeps. Right or wrong, their perception that tardy sweeps are ludicrous does not increase their respect for the administration.

The school board has not yet addressed the apparent conflict between the practice of tardy sweeps and Board Policy 6116, which aims to protect classroom instructional time. We hope that the Board will not need to address this matter. We hope that this matter remains internal to Gilroy High School, and that it is resolved on site, perhaps with input from the student council.

Some things for the student council and the administration of GHS to consider:

Are tardy sweeps effective in deterring tardiness?

Are citizenship grades effective in deterring tardiness?

Could teachers beef up their internal consequences? Something like a one point quiz at the very beginning of class? Laggards get zero?

Could we get the same message – that tardiness is unacceptable – across with slightly delayed lunchtime trash sweeps or after-school trash sweeps?

Would it not make even more sense to have the punishment fit the crime? That is, force students who litter to pick up trash, and have students who are late to class stay after school?

Would split lunch periods help students to eat and get to class in a timely manner?

Mani Corzo has made a great start at decreasing tardiness, but the practice needs tweaking.

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