Editorial: Tardy policy at MHS needs revision

The tardy policy at Marshfield High School has disappeared completely, giving students no reason to show up on time to class. There have been many different policies over the years, all created in hopes of motivating kids be on time; but they have been consistently ineffective and inefficient. At this point, the acceleration of punctual decline, which was often observed in students in the past, has finally reached terminal velocity.
A couple of years ago, tardiness was kept track of by the attendance office at MHS. If a student was late, they were required to go to the office to get a “swept pass,” which the secretaries would mark as excused or unexcused, and from there, they would take the pass to their teacher. The student was not allowed to enter the classroom until they had received their swept pass. This policy was inconvenient for students and gave them more motivation to get to class in a timely manner. But the waves of late students coming to the office also inconvenienced the secretaries and the passes were eliminated, leaving behind no tardy policy whatsoever. This also leaves the students with no incentive to be punctual.

This year, each teacher is expected to have their own tardy policy and they will decide what the punishment is for the student tardies. Due to this change, more students have the opportunity to be late because it is hard for a teacher to stop in the middle of instructing class and write them up for being tardy. Because of this, students are often left with no consequences at all for tardies. In the past when one would walk in late, the class would turn and stare as they walked across the room to take their seat. Now, no one even glances up, as if it is normal to have someone walk in during the middle of class. The more students who walk in late, the harder it is for teachers to teach because they are constantly interrupted by one thing after another. It is hard enough for students to learn all the material with the short class periods this year and all the disruptions do is take away from the already limited time.

The swept pass tardy policy had the potential to be effective; it just needed stronger reinforcement. The constantly recurring problem is inconsistency with the policies. The administration needs to pick a plan and stick to it, giving the staff and students time to adjust and become accustomed to the policy until it becomes the norm. Perhaps the administration could revisit the swept policy, making improvements where needed. For instance, there could be brainstorming to find a way to take the strain off the secretaries when using the policy. Perhaps a more computerized version would be more efficient. However, no matter what the policy is, it is ultimately the student’s responsibility to arrive on time to class.

The district and administration’s next plan for reprimanding tardiness again is unknown, but it is clear the method currently in use is not effective. Students need incentive, an invisible hand pushing them to reach their full potential. But they cannot be driven or motivated to do that when the metaphorical hand has disappeared completely. Punctuality is one of the most important qualities one can have, and that lesson needs to be brought back into practice by beginning to enforce against tardiness once again.