WASHINGTON (Circa) - Sixteen government-funded high schools across the Chicago area have cracked down on the amount of time students can use the bathroom, which has led to female students menstruating through their uniforms, according to a report by National Public Radio Illinois.
The Noble Network of Charter Schools overseas the 16 government-funded schools.
“We have (bathroom) escorts, and they rarely come so we end up walking out (of class) and that gets us in trouble. But who wants to walk around knowing there’s blood on them? It can still stain the seats. They just need to be more understanding,” an anonymous student texted an NPR reporter.
Some school administrators allow students to tie a Noble sweater around their waist to cover up period stains if they have an accident.
“The administrator then sends an email to staff announcing the name of the girl who has permission to wear her sweater tied around her waist, so that she doesn’t receive demerits for violating dress code.”
Noble's handbook includes more than 20 behaviors that elicit disciplinary action.
Noble issued a statement in response to the NPR report that read, “We at Noble are used to being publicly attacked due to the unfortunate political and emotional debate around charter schools, ….It takes one anecdote from among our 12,000 students and 10,000 alumni to allege a school policy that simply doesn't exist.”
The statement claims that the policy of allowing students to tie a sweater around their waist to cover period stains was put in place to accommodate students who have an accident.
“Noble absolutely accommodates our students during menstruation, including bathroom trips whenever the student needs one. We also know that stains are still not 100% preventable for factors that are private to each student, but when they happen, our schools provide supportive solutions as quickly as possible," Constance Jones Brewer,president of NNCS said in a statement to the Huffington Post. This includes, at the student's discretion, the option to borrow clean uniform items from the main office, or the choice to wear a covering, at which point staff are notified that the student is not out of dress code and should be accommodated accordingly.”
These schools' defense is often something like "students need to be disciplined to be prepared for college / the real world."— Jessica Roy 🦅 (@jessica_roy) April 30, 2018
Never once – in college or any job I've had – has someone limited my bathroom breaks or forced me to bleed through my pants.
In a follow-up piece, NPR quoted several teachers who responded to Noble’s statement. One current teacher said students receive unfair detention for things like asking for makeup work. Another teacher says that auditors are sent to observe teachers during class to make sure they are enforcing strict discipline policies.
“Noble schools want all the submissive and compliant kids or those that are very impressionable,” the teacher texted an NPR reporter. “But kids on the South & West Sides (of Chicago) aren’t like that. You don’t survive in those neighborhoods that way. So what do the kids do? They fight the system and act just the opposite of what Noble wants.”
Sociologist Melvin Kohn studied parenting styles by social class and found that working class parents value conformity and obedience. Which is how the Noble school system is able to succeed in places like Chicago while serving a majority of low-income students.
“What he found was that working-class parents focus very much on obedience. Off little Johnny went to school and his mom said, ‘Listen to the teacher! Be good! Be quiet!’ And upper-class parents focused on learning and creativity and having fun,” social psychologist Jane Sundius told NPR. “The working-class parents trained their children to be workers on an assembly line, not empowered, while the upper-class families taught their children to believe that they had a legitimate right to their opinion and their views.”