I’m concerned about the growing backlash against what are referred to as “no excuses” schools. Too often, critics depict overly-rigid approaches to discipline that pave the road from school to prison.
I agree that too much rigidity can be problematic and can harm efforts to build community in a school. But I am also nervous that the pendulum will, as often happens in education, swing too far to the other extreme.
“No Excuses” Worked for Me
I have a slightly different opinion of both the origin and role of no-excuses policies in schools. As a student who attended a school that had a no-excuses policy, I benefitted from it tremendously, and so did my classmates.
We were taught to be self-disciplined, inspired by the Black Panthers and a long list of Freedom Fighters on whose shoulders we stood (Malcolm, Martin, Fannie, Huey, Sojourner, Ella—the list goes on). At a very early age, we knew these civil rights legends we dreamt of emulating didn’t make a ton of excuses.
Our teachers knew that the Black children in front of them needed to work twice as hard in order to gain any ground....