Charter school discipline: A Catalyst Chicago/WBEZ-Chicago Public Media report

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It’s almost 8:21 a.m. at Gary Comer College Prep Charter, nearly a minute after the morning bell. On this sunny day, Principal James Troupis stands in the gleaming foyer, watching several stragglers head to class.

“Hurry up,” he tells one young woman, as she shifts her backpack from one shoulder to the other. “Power-jog if you have to.” The student picks up her pace. Behind her, two serious-looking students trickle into class. By 8:25, the foyer is empty.

Catalyst Chicago and WBEZ-Chicago Public Media collaborated on a report into charter discipline policies and the link to the surprising number of students who transfer from charter schools. For more, see Deputy Editor Sarah Karp’s stories in our  In Focus section. Also, listen to WBEZ Education Reporter Linda Lutton’s stories.

It’s almost 8:21 a.m. at Gary Comer College Prep Charter, nearly a minute after the morning bell. On this sunny day, Principal James Troupis stands in the gleaming foyer, watching several stragglers head to class.

“Hurry up,” he tells one young woman, as she shifts her backpack from one shoulder to the other. “Power-jog if you have to.” The student picks up her pace. Behind her, two serious-looking students trickle into class. By 8:25, the foyer is empty.

The incentive for this last-minute hustle is Noble Street’s Code of Conduct, which calls for demerits any time a student is tardy. The later the student, the more demerits. Four demerits in two weeks equals a $5 fine and a three-hour detention.

The strict rules and tough consequences create an orderly vibe at the charter school, which is housed in a newly constructed building in Greater Grand Crossing. Noble Street and other charter schools emphasize calm and order as a prerequisite to learning. To accomplish this, many charters have discipline codes that are tougher than the CPS Student Code of Conduct.

But tougher rules are a double-edged sword.

Catalyst Chicago and WBEZ-Chicago Public Media collaborated on a report into charter discipline policies and the link to the surprising number of students who transfer from charter schools. For more, see Deputy Editor Sarah Karp’s stories in our In Focus section. Also, listen to WBEZ Education Reporter Linda Lutton’s stories.