The student news site of Brookline High School

The Cypress

The student news site of Brookline High School

The Cypress

The student news site of Brookline High School

The Cypress

New late policy

The new late policy impacts students across the school. The policy may have an increased impact on black and latino students.

In an ideal world, student-teacher communications would be clear, respectful and perfectly understood. However, our world is not so sunny and wonderful. Oftentimes, in our rushed and busy lives, things get lost in translation. The new and controversial tardy policy exacerbates these existing gaps in teacher-student communication and relationship.

The new tardy policy at the high school has a legitimate basis. According to the The New York Times, since the pandemic, school attendance has been in a tailspin which the policy attempts to remedy, alongside the issue of missed class time. Unfortunately, this policy is especially vindictive and frankly unrealistic for most students. This new strategy implements a verbal warning for the first two absences, a call home for the third, and a detention for the fourth. So, hypothetically speaking, it would be easier and less consequential for a student to skip class once than get a fourth tardy and detention.

Last year, I had advisory on the third floor of 22 Tappan and C block on the third floor of 115 Greenough. I tried my best to be on time and usually made it to class by 10:04 if not before, one minute or less after the class started. I told my teacher multiple times about my commute and he continued to mark me tardy every time. Had the new policy been in place, I would have received two detentions and three calls home when there was nothing I could do to change the situation.

Justina Wang, a senior who has an AP Physics double block at 22 Tappan, said that the new policy is counterintuitive and ineffective. She said that this rule has increased stress and led to more attention being paid to tardies than the actual class.

However, the new policy has larger implications than just detention and calls home. Overall, regular tardies are much more random and out of a student’s control than absences or an extended tardy/class absence. Students that have longer commutes or take the MBTA have more factors out of their control.

The MBTA has been increasingly slow, with fewer trains running, and less reliability for riders. The Red Line is also being replaced with shuttle service between Ashmont and JFK/UMass for two weeks in October. Shuttle buses are even more inconsistent than the T. If a student commutes using the MBTA, only four service delays the whole school year could result in a detention, potentially affecting the student’s academic, athletic, extracurricular, and work performance.

What’s more, the new policy also increases the burden of tardies and their consequences on the backs of students and teachers respectively, stressing that relationship. Don’t get me wrong: I have an immense amount of respect for teachers and the incredibly difficult job they do. Class time is very important for learning. However, this new policy only breeds disdain for teachers, not respect. All the responsibility is on the student to be perfectly on time all the time. One of the high school’s mottos is “we create the culture we want.” While ideally this policy would create a culture of punctuality and academic care, it is more likely that it will create a culture of dislike and disrespect between students and adult staff.

Finally, the new policy is excessively punitive. While it’s understandable that teachers and administrators don’t have endless options for enforcement mechanisms, detention is an astonishingly outdated and ineffective punishment. Multiple studies in the last 15 years found that, for the most part, detention did not result in a behavior change or improve academic performance. Students who received detentions were more likely to have adverse academic and legal outcomes in the future. Even with the intentions of supporting students’ academic performance, detention has been proven to have a contrary effect.

Studies also show that Black and Latino students have been found to be more severely punished for the same infractions as white students. If we have a more stringent policy with more severe consequences, it’s not a stretch to think that the same disparities could be repeated.
Should a student have a job to support their family, but they are forced to serve detention in conflict with their shifts, it could have adverse impacts on their work performance and their families financial security. The new policy says that teachers have the ultimate power over when detention is scheduled. One can hope that a teacher would be flexible with a student schedule, but there is no guarantee for understanding.

While it’s valid to think that the school needs a unified attendance policy, the new tardy policy will end up with more negative consequences than positive for students and the high school community. A more equitable and transformative process could include, instead of detention, open dialogue about student attendance and the impact it has on school and classwork. If this policy is implemented by the letter of the law, the severe consequences could be detrimental to student life. If it is flexible and understanding of the inevitability of mishaps and lateness, this rule could work well for the high school’s students and staff.

The high school loves to repeat our mantra of “you are not done yet.” If the school administration wants to truly boost attendance and time spent in class, they need to listen to themselves. Instead of focusing on an outdated system of punishment, embrace that we all have room to grow and learn. Let us work with our teachers to shape our class experience, the school culture we want and not impose an archaic four-strike system that will only lead to resentment.

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