Students, Parents Protest Noble Network School Discipline Policy

CHICAGO (CBS) — Some parents and activists rallied at Chicago Public School headquarters in the Loop Monday to accuse a chain of charter schools of overly harsh discipline.

Protesters chanted: “Invest in us, stop arresting us.”

Their chief complaint? Charter schools run by the Noble Network send students to detention for minor infractions and fine them $5.

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“We are absolutely appalled that Noble is padding its pockets off the backs of hardworking people by fining them,” said Alexi Nunn Freeman of Advancement Project.

Since 2008 Noble Schools have collected more than $386,000 in fines and fees for behavior classes–including more than $188,000 last school year alone, CBS 2’s Mai Martinez reports.

The system works like this, students get demerits for violations like chewing gum or talking in class. Four demerits equal a detention and a $5 fee to help cover the cost of staffing detention.

If a student gets 12 detentions, they have to take a $140 discipline course.

The protesters say most low-income families just can’t afford that, and they fear with the success of Noble Schools, the fees could be adopted across the CPS system.

The policies create a safe and productive learning environment, says Kimberly Neal, a principal at a Noble Network school, Muchin College Prep, 1 N State St.

“An example we always give students and parents: If you are late for work, would you have a job?” she said.

Julie Woestehoff, with Parents United For Responsible Education, said the practices have more to do with making money rather than keeping students safe.

“That sounds a lot like the excuse the dictator gives when imposing martial law,” she said.

Critics call the Noble Network policy predatory and punitive and say it’s counter-productive.

One parent, Donna Moore, said she eagerly sent her son to one of Noble’s schools. Now she says her son is repeatedly disciplined and fined for minor infractions, such has having a shoe untied or running a pencil along the edge of a desk.

Another parent of a Noble student, Kelly Castleberry, said she had no problem with the school’s policies.

“It teaches the students to be responsible for their actions. It also teaches the parents that you must be responsible for your children.”

School officials said students manage to go the entire year without getting a single demerit, so it’s possible never to receive a $5 fine.

  • Chivi

    These parents should stop being such “drama queens/kings”. Discipline is good! I’ve seen the inside of some charter schools and they definitely look a whole lot better than some public schools. If you don’t like it, take your kids elsewhere!!!

    • Jennie

      Chivi, you are absoutely right.

  • da truth,over by dere

    they would never make it in a private school,they would kick them out in a hearbeat!

    • Leah

      That’s completely untrue. Private schools are no where near that strict. It also doesn’t have anything to do with not taking responsibiilty for your child. If any of you with negative comments have or are raising perfect children who do nothing wrong, please give examples. Until you have lived in the situation with the schools, you wouldn’t know. Stop being ignorant and throwing around stereotypes.

      • Tee Thompson

        You’re nothing but a name-caller like your illegitimate kids. You’re just sore that they won’t be getting away with the BS anymore.

      • Jim

        I work in a charter school, and I love this. I might suggest it to my administration, only they are probably to chicken to attempt it. My position is this- no one has the right to deprive other, well-behaved children of their education. Teachers are now spending all of our time focusing on the lowest common denominator because schools do not offer an impactful means of disciplining behavior problems. And that is not right or fair to the majority who do the right thing.

        Second, some people in the article commented that these are families at the poverty level, and they cannot afford to pay these fines. To be blunt, that is the point. Money is the leverage. I deal with parents all of the time now who just do not give a rip about the behavior of their children or how it is hurting other children as well as their own. But suggest that they have to buy their child supplies such as notebooks or pencils, and they are up in arms. (Its funny, but these are the same children who come to school telling me about the video game system they have or who are caught with a cell phone out in 5th grade.)

        The majority of families and students are great. But there is a large minority that is ruining it for everyone else. And I think those are your protestors.

      • John

        The difference Leah, is in the private schools the children usually have parents that do their job. The kids come to school prepared. They have less discipline problems in private schools which leaves more time for learning.

    • dfkj

      Which explains why they are “better” than public schools.

    • Jennie

      Tell the truth and shame the devil.

  • Parents United for Responsible Education » Blog Archive » Noble in damage control mode

    […] WBBM-TV: Students, Parents Protest Noble Network School Discipline Policy […]

  • Kimberly

    The other point to be made is that charging students money for small infractions is not changing student behavior, but punishing the parents. It’s specious logic, like telling teachers they fail at teaching students based on their scores. What about the student and his/her motivation and reaction? Adolescents are going to try to get away with chewing gum. So, give them a detention. But to pay, when they haven’t destroyed anything? Why some children will rack up hundreds because they’re selfish and don’t have to pay.

    The self-mastered students, ones who don’t gather demerits, aren’t well behaved because they’ll get punished if they fall out of line. They’re just well behaved people, period. CBS2’s report is wrong because it insists that the charter schools’ premise is correct: the threat of punishment is enough.

    There are a lot of people who pay their way out of responsibility.

    • Shawn

      I actually love this plan. Growing up I went to schools that allowed paddling and correction and some that didn’t. In the schools that didn’t, there was infinitely less discipline and more bad behavior. Now that the schools aren’t allowed to really correct the children anymore, they have to rely on the parents more to control their children. I believe the fines drive that point home making it much more likely parents will take responsibility for their child’s actions and there will be consequences at home for bad behavior at school. Sounds like a good plan to me. Don’t want to pay a fine? Then make your children behave while they are at school.

    • Timothy Ilg

      There is a reason they get a demerit for chewing gum Kimberly,,,4 demerits is 5$. It’s a cause effect relationship. Why shouldn’t the kids have to pay for the teachers having to stay after class to supervise them? Do you want to pay for it? I don’t think so. Teach them some responsibility. Some causal relationships. They’ll learn. The school isn’t making money off of this. They are breaking even, maybe.

      • Jennie

        You have a lot of common sense.

    • Meme

      When I break the law and get a traffic ticket, I must pay it or eventually lose my license to drive. At the very least, these kids will – or should – learn that their actions have consequences. That’s just life and they’d better get used to it.

    • responsible parent

      Did you not read the article? The ‘fine’ is a charge for the detention, if the after 4 demerits the parents haven’t convinced the child to behave, then they should pay for the extra teacher hours of detention. I don’t think there is a thing wrong with this punishment-the media tries to make it out as if they are being abused-detention for 4 infraction? and the child that is being ‘singled-out’ (according to mommy)-maybe if he would actually NOT do any of those things for which he is getting in trouble, he wouldn’t be in trouble. Mayb ‘mommy’ should teach her little boy how to tie his shoes and how NOT to make noise that distracts the rest of the class. One thing I always said to my son (when he was a little boy) when he insisted on jst bbeing aggravating was “you anted attention, now you got it, did you think that making me mad would get GOOD attention?” It worked well-we only had about a six month period of him trying to see where that line was-and he never crossed it again.

      • Marsha

        You are not frikkin illiterate or a trouble maker just because one’s shoes can’t stay tied. I did well in school but there were times that my shoes were not always tied, despite efforts. I know of grad students who don’t always have their shoes tied. They are really intelligent, but being able to keep shoes tied is another story.

    • alsoateacher

      1. Read the article, Students are NOT being fined for small infractions. They are being fined for repeated and frequent infractions in a very short period of time. 4 demerits in two weeks indicates a significant discipline problem
      2. Anytime a student CHOOSES to disobey a rule, it is disobedience. Demerits are not about untied shoes or being late to school. They are about consequences for disobediance. Better they should learn that lesson for being late now then to leave school and think it’s okay to be late in the corporate world and lose their job.
      3. Your attitude is exactly what is wrong with public school teachers. You portray very low expectations for students – as do many public school teachers AND parents. You EXPECT them to break rules, be disobedient and behavior poorly…. and so they do. Then everyone complains about it. Children will live up to the expectations of the adults around them. If they know you expect them to act up, they will. Hold them to a high standard of behavior and they will at least attempt to meet it.
      4. There is an attitude of entitlement that is pervasive in the public school system. Everyone has a right to public school education, NOT a right to that education without recourse for bad behavior.
      5. If these parents can afford to “pay their way out of responsibility” then good. They can pay someone to teach their kids how to behave. If they can’t afford it, then they better get off their butt and do it at home.
      6. Self mastered students are that way because they are RAISED that way at HOME. Unless a student has a bona fide, diagnosed mental illness that prevents them from behaving, the responsibility for poorly behaved kids rests directly on the parents. If they can’t or wont correct the behavior of their kids then they SHOULD have to pay someone else to do it. Five buck is a pretty cheap fee in my opinion

    • Jenn

      Read the article. The students are not punished for “small infractions”. They are punished for REPEATED infractions over a two week period. If they are spoken to four times in two weeks they are fined. Four times is far too many. THAT is what it taking away from students who know how to behave.

      Parents that don’t do their job and teach their kids to respect authority at school have to pay the literal cost of someone else doing it.

      Your attitude is exactly what is wrong within the public school system….An attitude of entitlement regardless of behavior and LOW expectation for the behavior of students…. and it starts with the adults.

      Children will work to live up to the expectations of the adults in their lives- both parents and teachers. Expect little from them (i.e. that they WILL break the rules) and they will live up to that. Expect much from them and they will at least TRY to live up to that.

  • Richard

    Huh…I wonder if the Donna Moore in this article who is the same Donna Moore that sued the Chicago Police looking for a paycheck?

    See here:

    • Joe Dutra

      Same one!

  • Afro

    “An example we always give students and parents: If you are late for work, would you have a job?” she said.

    Hell yes they would still have a job because the Liberal Unions won’t let employers fire the lazy SOB’s. That is a bad thing to use as an example in my opinion.

    • Afro

      If the kids keep their ass out of trouble then there is no problem!

  • Joe Dutra

    Give them five dollars worth of swats on their rears!

    • 4grandma

      Sure wish they had a LIKE button on this site.

      • meme

        I totally agree. It gives the reader a better idea of opinions held out there in cyberworld.

  • cajunwarthog

    1st fine= $10.00
    2nd fine= $20.00
    3rd fine= expelled, go somewhere else!

    • Jennie

      that makes a lot of sense to me

  • Strider

    40 years ago at a Catholic HS we were fined $2 for every demerit. So what’s new? And what’s the big deal?

    • Lyndia

      The big deal is that some people do not want to discipline their childrenand they do not want you to say anything to the little ………..

  • Gummint Skool Nomore

    Parents: Proud of that great education your government provides? Think it’s really positioning your children for success?

    Losing… Duh!

  • dave

    well the kids need to learn that if they want to act like an adult, then they are gonna be fined like an adult….when they grow up and act like idiots, they get thrown in jail and fined for their actions….nothing wrong with charging them when they end up in detention

    • leah

      Are adults sent to jail for having their hand on their face or not sitting up straight? Is that realistic? I think not. If that were the case, every CEO would be unemployed.

      • Jeff

        Its obvious leah is a bad mother.

      • Arnie

        Leah, if you or the other parents don’t like the rules, they are free to go. The kids in the school will be better off. And you’re comparing detention to jail? Jump to unrealistic conclusions much?

  • Alf


    Kimberly, I think you’re just looking for ways to disprove the results. However, they are results. I think it’s a good way to greater involve students and parents in discipline problems. Yes it is a bit harsh and yes, they’ve made. Decent amount of money from it, but they have fewer problems. I don’t think the fine is the sole reason for this, but you can’t claim it doesn’t help.

  • John Moser

    If you can afford the punishment, tell your mouthbreather to quit running his pencil along the edge of the desk. Geez!

    • John Moser


  • DH

    Schools should not be given a financial incentive to punish children. I don’t have a problem with disciplining children, but making hundreds of thousands of dollars off them creates a serious conflict of interest.

    • Lisa

      Wrong perspective…the students are costing the school hundreds of dollars in staffing costs.

    • Merlin

      I agree. Now, when that student has to go to detention, will YOU go and monitor the detention WITHOUT PAY?. I didn’t think so. No one wants taxes raised to afford the additional pay to provide teachers to monitor detention. Where should the money come from? I’m not paying for someone elses kid who can’t or won’t follow the rules.

  • War is peace, freedom is slavery, ignorance is strength

    Why should schools not be given a financial incentive to punish children? Do the police not have a financial incentive to arrest citizens? Red light cameras, speed traps, punitive unenforceable laws that do nothing but collect revenue from citizens as a back-door tax. Look up how forfeiture law is being abused to generate revenue to keep police departments in the red. Why do some cities have such large crime rates but police wasting time catching people driving 10 mph over the limit when the whole freeway is safely driving that speed. This rule will prepare these kids to be the government atm that we all are today.

    • War is peace, freedom is slavery, ignorance is strength

      *from going in the red

  • Minister of the Interior

    “Padre, these are subtleties. We’re not concerned with motives, with the higher ethics. We are concerned only with cutting down crime–and. . .with relieving the ghastly congestion in our prisons. He will be your true Christian: ready to turn the other cheek, ready to be crucified rather than crucify, sick to the very heart at the thought even of killing a fly! Reclamation! Joy before the angels of God! The point is that it works.”

  • Richard

    Just a quick note: For the 2011 results, Noble Street Charter Schools has 8 of the top 10 non-selective high schools in the city. And yet, with all of the talk, their retention rate (including transfers and expulsions) beats the overwhelming majority of other schools in the city. The original Noble Street hasn’t expelled anyone in over a decade.

    Further, as is pointed out, Noble isn’t making money off the detention or summer school money. They are just trying not to lose too much. Is someone really arguing that students shouldn’t be given demerits for violating school rules, and that repeated violations should not lead to detention? Let’s be honest, lots of schools have detention. And someone has to watch that detention, which in turn means someone needs to be paid for watching that detention. Even with students paying for detention and summer school, it’s a net loss for the school and yet they see the overwhelming need to put culture first. Noble isn’t able nonsense. It won’t work there. It isn’t about distractions. It won’t work there. They squeeze every bit of instruction time out of the day by eliminating disciplinary issues.

    Maybe that’s why they have 8 out of the top 10 non-selective schools? Maybe it’s time for the rest of the city to join in. These parents can crow all they want, I’d be happy to send my child to a Noble Street School.

    • Lyndia

      If the parents do not like it, send your child to CVS or Hirsch, where they can run wild and learn nothing.

  • fahs

    I am tired of kids who play by the rules having to suffer because of the 10% or so of students that decide to cause problems in the classroom. If the kids don’t pay the expense for thier own detention teacher, the money will come from programs that benefit all kids. The idea that we should take from those kids that play by the rules to give to those that are causing problems is crazy. Yet, we do it all the time, and parents like the ones on here are justifying it. (The mom who has a kid that had 33 detentions in outrageous!) If your kid does not act up, you should live this policy. I don’t feel sorry for the mom that cannot afford bus fare because her kid is being disruptive. I feel bad for the good kids that cannot take an AP course because the school district is having to spend money on a detention teacher.

    • Kimberly

      Why would students not be able to take an AP course with a fully qualified teacher (worth tens of thousands of dollars) because a school district has to spend $20-$40 an hour each day on a detention teacher? The comparison doesn’t add up. It also doesn’t take a teacher to watch detention. If a school has to make an either-or choice that isn’t an equal trade-off, then someone isn’t administering the manpower or money well.

  • David

    Sound like a bunch of “activists” and union supporters tring to shut down a successful school

    • PJS

      No AFT there? Amazingly, that translates into success.

    • Kimberly

      David, your statement smacks of bitterness. No one is trying to shut down anything. Noble Charter school is the only charter school that has rated consistent success in scores, for all the pro-charter comments that I have read. No other charter school group exceeds public school performance in Chicago in score comparison. I know a couple of workers there, and I know plenty of children there. I don’t begrudge anyone success. However, charter school teachers deserve money, better benefits and protection; when special charter-school laws are made to protect class size, reduce high-stakes testing, allow for the curricular and structural supports on the backs of teachers who can’t collectively bargain, students who are forced out, and taxpayers whose money is being siphoned from the public schools to pay for their physical plants, etc. Any child who can’t go to Noble or some of the very fine CPS schools, like Northside Prep, Payton, and Whitney Young (and a host of others) must go to schools whose funding is low, where the environments sometimes are hostile to the workers AND students, where clinicians are overworked…

      Writers here are bordering on hyperbole when they say that at other schools, kids are learning nothing. Teachers do a damned fine job in the midst of problems that you can’t tackle by yourself. Do you think most children enter school on level in this city? Why would you expect that children who may be reading-ready but lower level would meet their levels consistently in blighted neighborhoods? Or that schools in those neighborhoods would perform perfectly? But we teachers try and do the job, so instead of saying we are not, the public should be fighting for us so we can have the working conditions that promote creditable learning–we’ve been fighting for these for years, only to be accused of whining.

      Public education is what we should strive to improve, but Chicago schools are resegregating. Some of you may sleep well at night because your nearby charter school is quiet, but look at the U of C Consortium report: our charter schools have the same outcomes as public schools, and in many cases, worse. So which do you want for our children: quiet or challenge? Then support public education like you do charters.

  • JMS

    Hey you have a charter school you dont like? Cool take your kid the another charter you do or the public school. thats the way it works. I think its great. if the parents dont like it, keep your kids in line, or better yet parent them so thay knoiw what respect is. Charter schools are great becasue they give your kids teh prvate school enviroment but take the public eductaion dollars for it. Nothing is owed to you. education costs everyone. I dont have kids but (I raise my neice and did my nephew casue my sister wanted to play it easy by being their buddy instead of the hard job of setting an example) my tax dollars go to the school system. this does keep kids in a safe and productive learning enviroment.

    • Lyndia

      I do not know what goes on in charter schools in spite of me living across the street from one. I just know the police is never called, the children are not fighting outside of the school, and they all seem pretty well behaved to me.

  • USSA under King and Queen Hussein Obama

    Today students we’re going to McDonalds to indulge in The Obama Meal!
    Pay attention, as this is very important for your future success; I’m going to order a meal for each of you, and when the cashier asks me to pay, I’m going to inform her that the next customer behind our school group is going to pay the bill…

  • Frank

    maybe I missed it somewhere, but teachers are salaried positions, there is no loss in money there. If they would make useful time of the detention there wouldnt be a problem at all!

    • Stromm

      Actually, teachers salary is based on a specific number of days per school year, with each of those days having X number of hours.

      I was a teacher for five years. I worked more hours per week as a teacher than any other job I’ve had. All those “days off”, yea, not really. Especially during the Summer where a teacher has to take continuing ed courses to stay licensed.

      As a parent of now adult children, if they did the crime, they pay the price. For those “low-income” students… How about the parents not rent/buy that video game or cancel the kid’s cell phone service, or don’t buy them those $200 shoes.

      • Steven Hall

        No problem..they will steal them. And to be totally honest; How many problem students are black?

  • David Kramer

    What is the reporter whining about? The media is usually in the tank for public schools, what is the difference here? This is what the Democrats would call a different revenue stream for schools. Maybe if the parents weren’t whining and tell their children to pay attention and not cause problems, they would not get fined. But oh well I will have to say, if you do not like the school, pull your kids out.

  • JohnRalph

    They need to fine them a rock of crack, then they can turn it around and sell it to the parents.

  • pitter43

    The answer is pretty simple, kids, behave yourselves. If you don’t like it, go back to public schools where the liberals let you get away with anything. They didn’t beg you to come to their school. Chances are, you got in there by a lottery system. You wanted to go there, obey their rules. Parents, learn to discipline your kids. You wanted them there, see to it they obey the rules or put them back where they came from. The school isn’t there to lose money because you never taught your kids to behave themselves.

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