Charter school disciplines with tough love, responsibility

Posted April 11, 2010

Project Education: Edutopia, a partnership between WRAL-TV and the George Lucas Educational Foundation, shows how a Texas charter uses tough discipline to teach responsibility to others.

YES! Prep North Central, part of a system of middle and high school charter schools in Houston, uses a discipline system called Restoring Individual Student Excellence.

"R.I.S.E. is an important thing here because it teaches students how to improve from their errors," said a student named Alexander, who got marked up for talking in class. "I really believe that."

Principal Phillip Wright said that under R.I.S.E., North Central had only two fistfights last year.

Tough love keeps discipline at charter school Tough love keeps discipline at charter school

Students incur disciplinary marks for infractions ranging from chewing gum in class to dishonesty. The R.I.S.E. system kicks in when a student gets five infractions in a week.

The first time that happens, students are separated from their classmates during lunch and assemblies and have to wear white T-shirts. They get five days of instruction on their behavior and make daily visits to the principal.

If they get five infractions in a week for a second time, students can't talk to other students, participate in extracurricular activities or speak up in class, except for academic reasons. They have to wear red T-shirts.

Students who repeatedly get five infractions in a week can get in-school suspension.

The discipline isn't intended to be punishment, but tough love, the principal said.

"My parents showed me a ton of love but were also extremely direct and stern when I screwed up," Wright said. "That's the way I talk to the students when I cam checking in on them in the morning."

Students are offered the chance to earn their way out of discipline with good behavior: If they go five out of 10 days without getting an infraction, the disciplinary restrictions are lifted.

There's one final step, one that Wright says teaches students responsibility. Students must apologize to their classmates and explain why they are worthy of reuniting with them.

"I think the approach with the R.I.S.E. is that, 'Look, I care about you tremendously. I really want you to be successful. I'm not giving up on you,'" Wright said. "'But you, you've let me down. And you've let your classmates down and let your teachers down.'

"But each day is a new day to hold themselves responsible for their behavior.'"


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  • Plenty Coups Apr 13, 2010

    Myra-The issue I have with your post is that everybody has an issue with every type of possible school discipline. What you can actually do is very small nowadays because someone is always complaining about how their child shouldn't receive that type of punishment and how it is harmful. Most school systems don't spank or paddle anymore though some studies show that spanking can actually be beneficial. (
    What is harmful is no punishment, which is in the end what happens when people complain. You can bet people will complain and this charter school will be forced to end this program because kids are being "singled out" or forced to wear shirts that "brand' them. Another example is parents protesting that kids shouldn't be suspended because that "puts them on the streets" or "on the road to prison". In the end, whats more important is a negative consequence given in moderation, consistently applied.

  • Myra Apr 12, 2010

    How odd, but not surprising, North Carolinians would dis a system that is WORKING. Here in NC they prefer to "hit the child" (aka corporal punishment). Considering the surge and increase in number of principals, teachers, coaches, etc. chareged with sex offense of students and children, it boggle my mind the NC Gen Assbly would give them the right to take a child in private and hit them. check out for some results of corporal punishment extremism. Teachers nowadays demand respect from students. If you have to ask for respect, you haven't earned it. . The legislature gave 16 yr old kids the right to consent to have SEX but DENIED these same kids sex education. Hurts my brain. Children have no value in North Carolina

  • LoveMyLab Apr 12, 2010

    Hey, it's better than what's happening in 99% of the schools out there - which is absolutely NOTHING! Screw up and mommy and daddy get a call to come talk, and when they leave they do nothing cause the experts (lovely what having a piece of paper will get you in life ain't it?) have all said "Oh no! Don't discipline the kiddies! You'll break their independent spirit, their love of life, they'll be scarred child abusers when they grow up if you punish them for anything!" Perhaps we should make the "experts" go stand in the corner????

  • hardwork919 Apr 12, 2010

    How is this tough love? They get a million chances before they're even really disciplined? A white shirt? Please... when I was in middle school, if you wore your jeans below your bottom, the principal made you wear pink suspenders for a week... and that was just ONE of the things done to curtail discipline problems... I applaud the school for doing something but this hardly seems worthy of a story...