K-12 Schools Punish Students by Making them Work as Janitors

Written By Jeff Hawkins
(OS1) Trainer, Provo City School District

Often students at school that are in trouble for any number of reasons are brought to me to be “punished” for their bad deeds. Administrators ask if I can put them to work by doing janitorial tasks such as cleaning lunchroom tables, washing entry glass, cleaning lockers, picking up trash, etc. While I do think it is appropriate for a student who draws all over the walls to be given the task of cleaning it off, I am not sure if I see a correlation of having to clean lunchroom tables for being excessively tardy or picking up trash for being disrespectful to a teacher. It seems that more often than not the administrators are unintentionally sending the message to misbehaving students that “if you get out of line we will give you the most awful punishment we can think of ” …janitorial work.

Ever since I have been introduced to (OS1), I am feeling conflicted that “punishing” students to do janitorial tasks goes against the entire JU Philosophy of Cleaning. If we are trying to send the message that the janitorial profession is a first class profession employing first class citizens, should administrators be “sentencing” students to perform cleaning tasks? Isn’t that reinforcing the negative stereotypes that we are working so hard to reverse?

Think about it.