Will Shaming a Bad Student Teach Him to Learn?

ronda holder, bad grades
Is humiliation apt punishment for chronic bad grades?

I feel bad for Tampa, Fla., mom Ronda Holder. She’s out of ideas, doesn’t know how to motivate her son and is scared that if he doesn’t get it together, he — like her — won’t finish high school.

I feel bad for Holder’s son, James Mond III, too. He had to stand on a Tampa street-corner wearing a cardboard sign around his neck.

Here’s what was written on the sign:

“I DID 4 Questions on my F-Cat AND Said I Wasn’t Going to Do it! GPA 1.22… Honk if I NEED [an] Education.”

How about we honk if Holder and her son need some help?

I doubt that public shaming will have any effect on her son’s education. I mean, it might motivate him for a little while — get him to at least go through the motions of finishing his work (and standardized tests) at school. But Holder had already taken away his phone, according to the NY Daily News. She decided embarrassment was the only way, so she’s going to make him stand there wearing the sing until his GPA improves.

Holder’s an easy target; after all, if he’s standing there with the sign, how is he going to do homework? But I won’t take aim at her. If her son wouldn’t even take a mandatory, fill-in-the-dots test, something tells me he needs way more than simply motivation to get an education.

Neither Holder nor her husband, James’ father, finished high school or went to college. But they are determined that their son will. Problem is, he’s probably way too behind right now to do either. I have to wonder if Mond, the grand-nephew of a former police chief of Tampa, is attending one of the hundreds of schools in the U.S. deemed a “drop-out factory” by education expert Bob Balfanz of Johns Hopkins University and featured in the movie “Waiting for Superman.” These are schools that expect — actually count on — some 60 percent of their freshmen to drop out at some point before their senior year.

So while I can appreciate that sending him out on a street corner to share with the world his bad grades as a way of showing him that asking for  money on the street corner is hard way to make a living, I think his (and her) time could be better spent tracking down the (scare) resources that are out there (somewhere!) for him to get tutoring and maybe even transferred to a special program.

Holder and her husband — and poor uneducated parents like them around the country — are often under the mistaken impression that the school is doing its part if only their son would do his. Sure, he’s not working right now in class, but how long has he been not working at school? My guess is that it’s been years. One has to wonder if he gave up on the test because his reading skills were too awful. If that’s the case, you have to ask — yet you know the answer — why was he pushed up, one grade after the next.

Look, maybe Holder’s son is really just lazy, impulsive and scarily unaware of his future, if he continues on a path of not working hard at school. But there’s also an incredibly good chance that the system has failed him, as it does other kids, all the time.

Commence “what about personal responsibility comments” now.


Article Posted 5 years Ago
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