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Parents share dismay with new discipline program

About a dozen parents were in attendance this past Friday morning at Chief Kamiakin Elementary School to share their concerns about the new discipline program, Make Your Day, implemented at the fifth/sixth grade school. The new program penalizes students for such things as walking on grass or laughing in class.

According to Chief Kamiakin Elementary School Principal Dr. Carol Clarke, the Make Your Day program is used in numerous school districts across the state.

Clarke provided parents with some background on the reasoning for implementing the discipline program. She said over a year ago discipline was identified as a major area of concern when Chief Kamiakin was in the process of overhauling its state-mandated school improvement program. Clarke said staff and some parents who worked on the committee looked at a variety of areas dealing with the school improvement plan, including reading, math, attendance and discipline. Clarke said the committee working on the plan put into place reading and math improvement programs that will be implemented next school year. Discipline also took high priority, said Clarke. She said a discipline program needed to be put into place to ensure every student has equal opportunities to be successful.

Clarke said her staff, including teacher, para-professionals and custodians, researched two school-wide discipline programs. She said the staff finally decided on the Make Your Day program. Out of a staff of 80, only three people at Chief Kamiakin said they weren't comfortable with implementing the Make Your Day program, said Clarke. One staff member later said they were comfortable with the program after receiving more information.

Chief Kamiakin staff underwent 14 hours of training before the program was put into place on May 12. Clarke said the company who administers the Make Your Day program suggested staff receive the training to implement the program now and then work out all the issues before the start of next school year. It was also recommended the program be put in place now because staff will be undergoing training on implementing a number of other new programs for next school year, she explained.

The overall purpose of the Make Your Day program is to hold students accountable for their actions while supporting a child's right to succeed. Clarke said the program is important because it will provide a consistent, school-wide discipline program for students.

Under the program students receive points for displaying a positive, willing attitude. There is a step process for disciplining students under the program. The steps range from sitting a student facing away from the class to being sent to the office for administrative discipline.

Chief Kamiakin Assistant Principal Adelia Goedhart oversees disciplining students at the elementary school. Goedhart said last year alone she dealt with 2,000 discipline referrals in a school of 925 students.

"When they (students) come into my office, they are usually in a serious situation," said Goedhart.

Goedhart said she is very much in favor of the program because it empowers students, teaching them there will be consequences for their actions.

"We believe we have selected an excellent program," said Goedhart. "It forces people to stand back."

One of the parents in attendance was concerned the program amounted to nothing more than public humiliation. Goedhart addressed the parents concern of having a child placed in the corner of a classroom. Goedhart said that particular process in done very quietly and doesn't serve as a form of public humiliation because other students barely know what is going on.

Another parent was concerned about whether teachers are implementing enough discipline in their classrooms. Goedhart said one teacher may have a different tolerance level for students than another. But under the Make Your Day program there is a list of boundaries that serves as a guideline for all students. Goedhart said she didn't want to make the list public until next year, after all of the kinks have been worked out for implementation of the program. Goedhart also pointed out students still have the right to speak with administration about their concerns.

"I know it (the Make Your Day program) will not hurt your child," said Goedhart.

Several parents were also concerned with the points system of the program. Several parents mentioned there is no reward for obtaining points. Goedhart pointed out that students shouldn't be rewarded for showing good citizenship.

"Rewards don't work," said Goedhart. "You can't give someone success. It isn't a negative thing. It is about holding everyone to the same accountability."

Another parent had concerns with another area of the points process. The parent was concerned with the fact that students share how many points they have obtained several times throughout the day. Several of the parents were against their child telling about how many points they have. Some parents were concerned it would serve as a source of disruption whether in the classroom or on the playground. One mother said she didn't want other students judging her child based on this points program.

Goedhart said with the program being implemented correctly problems with students judging one another won't take place. Goedhart added this program will not change how students and teachers interact or restrict any of the activities they do.

"We are going to get a lot of the kinks worked out," said Goedhart.

Goedhart encouraged parents with concerns about the program to come and talk with her. She said the program will only work with the parents support.

"We will always have a door open to you," said Goedhart.

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