Schools Shouldn't Fine Tardy Students or Parents

Forcing families to pay fines for various infractions, such as not getting their children to class on time, is counterproductive and hurts people who can least afford it, Michelle Singletary writes in her Washington Post/Bloomberg column.

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In her Washington Post/Bloomberg column, Michelle Singletary urges schools to find other strategies to help children get to school on time. She says that forcing families to pay fines for various infractions, such as not getting their children to class on time, is counterproductive and hurts people who can least afford it.

Money is not the answer to everything.

For example, consider the trend of schools forcing families to pay fines for various infractions such as not getting their children to class on time. It’s counterproductive, and the fines often hit people who can least afford them.

The practice is an idiotic attempt to change people’s behavior by making them pay. We keep hearing examples of this from around the country.

In Chicago, a charter school system fines students $5 if they end up in detention for piling up infractions that include chewing gum, having untied shoelaces or not looking a teacher in the eye. Children who get 12 detentions in a year must attend a behavior class in the summer that costs $140. Many of the students come from low-income families.

Then there is this nonsense of charging and even jailing parents whose kids are perpetually tardy. A judge in Virginia found a woman guilty of three counts of contributing to the delinquency of a minor because her children were frequently late for school.

The mother was arrested. She was ordered to pay a $1,000 fine for each of her three children, plus $3,000 in court costs. She said she has trouble getting her children to school on time because she suffers from attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder. 

Read Michelle Singletary’s entire column at the Washington Post/Bloomberg.

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