Toolbox Tuesday!! Can students be required to write?

We’ve been revising our firm’s Model Student Code of Conduct, and the process brings back memories for me.  Like most Codes of  Conduct, we include a lengthy list of possible consequences for bad behavior.  Campus administrators like to have lots of options so we plugged in everything we could think of. 

Well….all but one thing.  We didn’t include:

Hand writing long sentences containing many large words hundreds of times.

I thought it should be included, but my colleagues disagreed. OK.  I’m OK with that. But hear me out: I am a better man today because of what Father McGlinchey made me do when I was a sophomore in high school.

I wrote the following two sentences 500 times:

This stupid assignment, which is a monumental waste of time, should be a reminder to me that I lack respect for the rights of others.  Furthermore, as a result of this stupid assignment, when I am called upon to perform duties in the kitchen in the future, I will endeavor to do so in a more gentlemanly fashion.

It was a boarding school, you see, and so we had occasional duties in the kitchen.  I was part of the dishwashing crew and we were being too loud and rowdy, thus showing a lack of respect for the Good Sisters who cooked for us. Thus we all had to write these two sentences 500 times, which took about two weeks.  Did I mention that we had to write it 500 times?

It made me a better man.  It improved my vocabulary and my cursive.  And I am very gentlemanly in the kitchen these days.  Mrs. Dawg will verify. 

And I write. A lot.  You are reading my writing at this very minute!  So I don’t buy this theory that writing assignments as punishment will always have a damaging effect.

What’s that got to do with Toolbox Tuesday?  Just a reminder that the law is concerned with disciplinary actions that amount to a change of placement, or a removal from the classroom.  The law has little to say about the many other disciplinary techniques that teachers use.  So a lengthy writing assignment like the one I did back in the day is not going to be considered illegal.  But it would be considered unwise and disproportionate by most people.  Too bad. 


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Tomorrow: SB 1716