Parents Are Uncomfortable With the Division of Kids at Lunch That Grants Special Privileges Based on Grades
A Florida high school has determined to separate students during lunch by absences and their academic performance, upsetting their parents and pupils. The program was introduced at the beginning of the school year, with the objective of providing incentives for students who were "on-track" to graduate.
Pupils at Hudson High School who have a GPA under 2.0, received an F in 1 class, and possess four or more absences are believed to be in the "off-track" class, based on FOX 13, a tv news outlet. It isn't important if the absences are excused or unexcused.
The students who fall into the class must stay in the cafeteria for the lunch period, while on-track pupils, who get an ID and wristband identifying their standing, get to eat lunch away from the cafeteria and also have other privileges. Students told Fox 13 that the lunchroom becomes crowded because some of those on-track students choose to stay there during the period.
As a few parents pointed out, this strategy singles out students that aren't doing well academically, as well as and are thus absent from college. Additionally, pupils without privileges can't actually leave the lunchroom to observe teachers, which seems to run against the goal of students getting help.
There's also the question of whether or not a policy is currently infringing on the rights of pupils with disabilities. The Children With Disabilities Education Act, a law intended to protect students, requires that students with disabilities aren't isolated from classrooms. Students are also protected by it. It's not clear if this kind of action is considered to fall under isolation or discipline for students with disabilities who don't fulfill the standards.
Kimberly Quick, a policy associate at The Century Foundation working on education policy, who specializes in diversity and inclusion, said a parent that raised concerns into the local news outlet about pupils with disabilities, challenging family circumstances, and disorders is right to be worried, since it is very likely that they would unequally affect by the coverage.
"This principle appears to be doing is developing a system where students are separated by peers predicated on matters, some of which might be in their hands but not all of them, which makes it problematic for students who might have different backgrounds and experiences to communicate together," Quick said. "It's stifling casual conversations that are important to have when you are speaking about instructional development. High-achieving pupils and struggling pupils benefit from having the ability to form relationships with one another or have intellectual conversations or casual conversations at a lunch table."
This approach toward penalizing absences, even excused absences, seems to harm disadvantaged students more than it helps them. Students of color and students from low-income households are more likely to miss school in comparison to more wealthy white classmates, based on a 2015 Attendance Works report. Students of color and low-income students' absences were associated with health problems such as learning disabilities, asthma, dental problems, and even health and trauma. The report explains that mental health counseling at schools and fresh approaches to dealing with trauma can help students that are absent. Some schools have embraced a neighborhood school model, which means that social services and health providers are at or near the college, which is assumed to make it much easier for students to get guidance and stay on track in college.
Regarding whether this policy functions for inspiring either students or students who do not meet the criteria, he said it appears to be unhelpful to either group.
"Students meeting these criteria, that are on track to graduate and are not missing classes and are not failing anything, eventually are likely going to continue on that path," Quick said. "I really don't think to be able to eat lunch out of the cafeteria will be an extremely strong incentive for them to keep on acting in this way. Whether or not it is the intention, it's really much more of a punishment to the pupils that are not on track."
The method to inspire students doesn't seem to address different factors impacting pupils' performance in college. The income achievement gap, by way of example, has widened and household income "is now almost as strong as parental education in calling children's achievement" according to some 2011 Stanford University paper. A 2016 Northwestern University study stated that the stress coming from race-based stressors -- such as stereotype threat, a scenario where people are concerned about conforming to stereotypes, in such an instance about a racial or cultural group, and perceived discrimination -- may play a role in gaps in academic accomplishment between white students and students of colour, mainly black and Latinx pupils.
This is not the lunchroom controversy too as shaming pupils be criticized. Some colleges have taught cafeteria staff to throw away students' hot foods if their lunch debt is high and stamp the hands of children who couldn't afford their meals or received free lunches.
Fast stated that a strategy would be to have advisers have college time and enrichment opportunities on a Saturday or meet with students.
"Resources are often thin and that I know that, but those would be much more effective approaches if you're attempting to incentivize students who are working to do much better," Quick said.
She added, "Students exhibiting behavioral problems that could exclude them from the program or academic struggles which exclude them in the benefits system are experiencing those due to difficulties they are having. That may be diagnosed or undiagnosed learning disabilities that could be trauma, appetite, and household situations. We don't know that without providing aid and an infrastructure to help them work through that, so you may just wind up punishing students that are already struggling to do better."
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