Charter School Emulates Prison, Thinks It's A Good Thing

Strict rules at Crown Heights charter school put 16% of students in detention every day

...Some behaviors are considered so bad - rolling their eyes, sucking their teeth or complaining after getting a demerit - students get an immediate 45-minute detention for committing them.

On an average day, one in six kids - about 50 - in the 300-student school stays after class, Achievement First officials said.

"We have high expectations, and we're really confident that what we're doing is in the students' best interests," said Principal Wells Blanchard, who instituted the policies when he took over the school this year.

Charter school advocates say the strict rules maintain order for kids.

But a group of parents with children at Achievement First Crown Heights say the rules are overkill. More than 20 of them met last week at the Crown Heights public library to discuss protesting the policies.

The group agreed to speak out at the school's next board meeting Nov. 22.

"I understand that schools need to have rules, but this is like Rikers Island," said Sarah Dickens, who said she will be at the board meeting to protest her fifth-grade son's daily detention for things like dropping a pen and failing to address a teacher as "ma'am."

"They've gone too far," Dickens said.

Education experts say charter schools with tough rules are a growing trend....

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