Deborah Meier, of New York University's school of education, believes the school district in Cheektowaga, New York, which bars underachieving and misbehaving middle-school students from extracurricular activities, is "like prison." Odd that Sondra LaMacchia, whose 14-year-old daughter Cortney attends a Cheektowaga middle school, doesn't appear similarly distressed. In fact, she supports the district's tough policy. Only after Cortney was forbidden from attending school dances, LaMacchia said, did the adolescent realize that studying is important. Similarly, after Melissa Gladwell, Cheektowaga Central Middle School's volleyball coach, benched a top player who didn't bring a progress report to practice, the youngster, says Ms.Gladwell, "never forgot again." The district policy may lead to some tricky situations (for example, should a low-achieving special education student be banned from all activities?), but those can be dealt with case-by-case. Cheektowaga's policy sounds right to Gadfly and, contrary to Meier's concerns, abiding by it is certainly easier than living in the big house.

"School's New Rule for Pupils in Trouble: No Fun," by Winnie Hu, New York Times, April 4, 2008

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