Opinion: Detention is doing more harm than good

By AZRIEL OLMEDO

Detention bars students from most productive activities, such as completing school work or studying, and most students consequently spend the reflection period catching up on sleep. (Alyssa Martin / Ethic Photo)

Whether the reason is traffic, alarm trouble, accidents or lack of parking, the result is often the same: detention.

It’s Friday morning. A student has been studying hard all week for the test in their first period. They check the time and worry that they are going to be late; their ride to school assures them that they will be fine. The student finally makes it to school, and as they open the classroom door, the teacher stops and sends the student to detention for arriving ten seconds after the bell. 

Now, they are stuck in a place where students are forced to do absolutely nothing. There is no homework time, no reading, no fiddling with hair and no tapping on the desk⁠—there is nothing but silence. When released, students are often left with incomplete work that usually cannot be revisited or taken for full credit.

Detention was first introduced as a reflection period for misbehaving students. The expected outcome was that the student will learn a lesson afterward and avoid misbehaving in the classroom again. Detention was designed to target those who arrived past the tardy bell or displayed unorderly conduct due to a lack of motivation and interest. However, students who are determined to learn and succeed are also sent to detention—they are held from their daily dose of knowledge.

For some, it is rational to place students who do not take their studies seriously in detention; it would not matter if the student has incomplete work afterward, as they did not try in the first place. However, the majority of students take their academic studies seriously and strive to graduate with a GPA higher than the required minimum. Detention that is given to students for arriving a few seconds late is detrimental to their performance, especially in fast-paced classes.

Admittedly, students are given the option to obtain a pass before arriving to class in order to avoid detention. But, it would better benefit the student’s time if they did not have to visit the front office to receive a paper as proof that they are allowed to join the class. Such a process should not determine a student’s right to learn.

Some may argue that the student is at fault and should take responsibility for arriving late. That is true for the most part, but many outside factors force unintentional outcomes. These factors include alternate routes due to roadwork, vehicle malfunctions or the simple lack of a way to arrive on time. There can never be a 100 percent certainty of the day’s structure of events.

Redlands East Valley High School has recently fixed this issue by terminating detention entirely and replacing it with phone calls home. This change benefits both students and their guardians, as students are no longer burdened by the responsibility of learning the lesson on their own or rushing to finish assignments, and guardians can work out a system so the student can regularly arrive on time. It is unclear whether or not Citrus Valley High School plans to adopt a similar policy.

Ultimately, students should nevertheless make an effort to learn and try to arrive on time every day. In order to ensure that students obtain the knowledge needed to help them grow and hopefully graduate, there should be a more effective system that separates the students who slam the snooze button from the students who suffer the wrath of unforeseen incidents.

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