Parents, Student Speak Out Against 'Make Your Day'

The literacy and behavioral program has been proven to cut down on suspensions, but some say it does more harm than good.

Stratford school officials credit a literacy and behavioral program called Make Your Day for reducing office referral suspensions and hence increasing class time for all students.

But some parents describe the techniques the program uses as "punitive" and "demeaning," and argue that there is not enough research to support that its teaching style benefits students.

Make Your Day (MYD) was first implemented in Stratford at at the start of the 2008-09 school year. It has since spread to , and and elementary schools, according to Assistant Supt. Elaine Watson.

"It puts the onus on the student to understand the expectations of their own behavior," she said. Under the program, a student's misbehavior is usually dealt with inside the classroom, rather than at the principal's office, Watson said. "Anytime kids are taken out of the classroom, there is a problem," she said.

Franklin School principal Lea Ann Bradford told the CT Post that the MYD program in one year cut suspensions in half, from 52 to 26. Watson said Bradford decided to implement MYD at Franklin after losing an administrator. This way, instead of spending time disciplining students in her office, she could focus on academic issues, Watson said.

Because teachers are picking up the slack when it comes to disciplining students, all the teachers in a school must agree with the MYD program and be trained on it before it's instituted in the school, Watson said. All teachers follow the same rules under MYD, she said.

A Student’s Perspective: Going Inside the Classroom

Noah Daponte-Smith entered seventh grade at Wooster Middle School in the 2008-09 school year, when the MYD program was first introduced to Stratford schools.

"We all thought it was an overreaction to the previous eighth-grade class," Daponte-Smith said. "We thought it was misguided."

Daponte-Smith said the program was tied to a point system and at the end of every period a student announced his or her points to the class. The scoring system was based on how well a student thought he or she behaved en route to school and on school grounds, he said.

The most points a student could get in a period was 45 and the maximum for a full day was 325, and students could challenge each other's scores, he said. If a student wasn't granted a minimum of 300 points at the end of the school day, a note was sent home saying the child didn't "make his day," said Daponte-Smith.

"I thought it was bizarre," he said. "It was a weird tool for people to tease each other with and counterintuitive to the whole system."


Another element of the MYD program was something called "Steps," said the now 15-year-old Hopkins School student. With Steps, a student who misbehaved was given three chances to improve his or her behavior in the classroom before being sent to the principal's office, he said.

According to Daponte-Smith, Step One placed a student in a chair outside the area of his classmates, but still in the classroom; Step Two required a student stand with his or her back to a wall; and Step Three turned the student around so that he or she was facing the wall, which had taped on it a message reading, "No one has the right to interfere with a student's education."

Daponte-Smith said he has been told by former classmates' parents that both the points and "Steps" systems are still in play at Wooster this school year.

Assistant Supt. Watson did not share any specific information on MYD instruction, but said "the classic expectations [of the classroom] are there and consistent procedures are followed."

'Completely Outraged' Parents

Beth Daponte pulled her son Noah out of Wooster following seventh grade.

"The whole focus of the day became this punitive program," Daponte said. "I know parents who took their kids out of the school district to private schools -- that's what we did, but other parents felt trapped and couldn't get their kids out."

Daponte said she was one of several "completely outraged" parents who asked the Board of Education to do away with MYD, but the program remained at Wooster because the school board said the teachers and principals all approved of it.

The mother of three also said the program is not a good use of the school district's money.

Watson said there is a one-time cost associated with implementing the MYD program at a school. In the case of Wooster and Franklin, two Title I schools, federal grant funds helped foot the bill, she said.

Moving Forward with MYD

Tom Sullivan has two children enrolled at Second Hill Lane, which just started with MYD this school year. Although he said his children have been "barely impacted" by the program, he fears that the "demeaning and radical" teaching style of MYD will have a harmful effect on Stratford's largest elementary school.

"There are a number of parents, students, as well as teachers that are not happy with this program," Sullivan said.

Watson maintained that the forms of discipline are discrete and are not meant to embarrass the student. Every teacher in a school interested in adopting the program must completely sign on to it, and that includes professional development days before and during the school year, she said.

Watson encourages concerned parents to walk the hallways of the schools that use the MYD program to see it firsthand.

"It's a positive way in getting students to take control of their behaviors so they can maximize the time they can learn," she said.

Editor's note: Watson spoke on behalf of Supt. Irene Cornish. Board of Education Chairman Gavin Forrester declined to comment.

Lamont Sanford March 14, 2012 at 04:21 PM
His is a great article I found having to do with an increase in the report of job dissatisfaction amongst teachers. I believe they may have left some key factors out during their sampling; such as religious and moral beliefs running contrary to that of their school requirements, as well as the fact that an increased number of educators are losing confidence in the political direction and ideology of their unions. Nonetheless, it was an informative read and I suggest that all of you read it and consider the opportunity you may still have, even if it is only for a short time, of changing the course of education in our country and “doing the right thing” for your students and the students that will come after them. Open your mouths! http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2012/mar/12/to-many-teachers-career-has-failed/?page=1
Dom DeCicco March 19, 2012 at 07:14 PM
Just like I said so long ago -- follow the money: Wait, What? Blog If you are going to do one thing today to better understand what is happening around us - please use that moment to read this post and forward it on to those who also care about the future of our children, our schools and our state. It is truly that important. Don’t Read It – Just Pass It! (Where things stand as of March 19, 2012) http://jonathanpelto.com/
Dom DeCicco March 20, 2012 at 05:04 AM
http://www.journalinquirer.com/articles/2012/03/19/page_one/doc4f675d1707af1106658022.txt#blogcomments Wow! You guys were all played. Great plan. Get the schools hooked on all that state and federal money. More programs -- more services -- more DSM/Disability mandates that fall under IDEA. When the money stops, have your BIG MONEY backers buy-up the schools and force software and other technologies on to the tax payers. I wonder if the CEA will bring that up..?
Dom DeCicco March 20, 2012 at 05:39 AM
I started this venture after a radical behavioral modification program was forced onto my children. I learned about it on the first day of school for them, after receiving a number of phone calls from parents of other students who used to be friends of my family. Strange how such a short amount of time can change so much. Since then, some of these parents have seemingly been quelled by promises that their little Johnnie or Billy wouldn’t be affected too harshly by the warped program that was implemented in what was once a very tranquil school on a little known avenue of our Town.
Dom DeCicco March 20, 2012 at 05:40 AM
All I can say to this is shame on them. Reflecting back on the endless time and effort that I have spent in researching the game that was being played, I now regret to report that my suspicion is that the Make Your Day Program was implemented more as a distraction – to keep the parents focused on one issue while an even larger plan was unfolding. Speak such as IPBS, IDEA, and Common Core have become routine areas of independent study for me and my wife. From what we can gather, the amount of money to be gained from this new framework that is being restructured is staggering. In my own way, I blame the teachers union for saying very little when the impossible mandates were being placed on the schools – political correctness neutered common sense and flooded the schools with incorrigible students simply by redefining their behavior as being due to a disability.
Dom DeCicco March 20, 2012 at 05:40 AM
The money came in though so not much was said. Besides, under the new left and political correctness, who would dare jeopardize their job by suggesting that some disabled students were actually criminals and were dangerous in the classrooms? So the payoff money kept coming and not a word was said. The schools took the money, flooded the classes with dopes and implemented PBIS – moving the discipline of psychology and school resource officers into schools in order to deal with the inevitable blow-back of packing the rooms with delinquents. Of course some of the parents chime in and say they love all the new programs – it works for them. It gets Johnny the psychopath back into a “regular” school. So now the money is getting tight but the academic mandates – ie. Having to do the impossible with maladaptive students, continue. The state now suggests that the bottom 25% schools should be taken over and possibly places under the management of a charter system. Follow the damned money people – please visit some websites and then find out who the board members of these foundations are – then see if those members participate on any other boards. If you’re a teacher who is fearful of speaking out, I’m not hard to find. If you’re another parent, I would love to talk to you and hear your concerns.
Dom DeCicco March 20, 2012 at 05:41 AM
If this succeeds, my concern is that we will lose dedicated teachers due to nepotism and cronyism. We would be placing what has otherwise been a local institution into the hands of hedge fund capital board members and mayors.
Dom DeCicco March 22, 2012 at 02:48 AM
Support for Good Teachers: Stop taking the ridiculous awards from the very people who are undoing your esteemed profession. Sure, it may help you get that much desired promotion that YOU may be looking for, but it is ruining your profession and ultimately deconstructing it -- reducing it to nothing more than a job. If you want the truly informed and supportive public behind you, you will have to make the tough decisions and stop showing up or excepting "fluff" awards that do nothing but perpetuate a growing fraud. There are some in our district who have bitten into this apple and are now part of the machine that is advancing its agenda – an actual quid pro quo that has unfolded that I believe, by my standards, to have been highly unethical. Have any of you noticed all the negative press that the MSM has been spreading that is directed at teachers? The only positive press has to do with some unknowing teacher being presented with one of the “Fluff” awards. This is by design – it is to condition teachers to respond to their new masters. This process is nothing new – Pavlov gave it to us so long ago. Eventually, you will learn to respond accordingly. Open your mouths! Do the right thing, not the thing that is right for you!
Gabriel Kotter March 22, 2012 at 05:51 AM
Headline: Bridgeport takeover try a cautionary tale "The behind-the-scenes dealings resulting in the takeover of Bridgeport's Board of Education were revealed in a chain of emails circulated over the weekend. These emails tell a chilling tale of exploiting close relationships with those in power to trample the will of the people." http://www.ctpost.com/opinion/article/Wendy-Lecker-Bridgeport-takeover-try-a-3389358.php#ixzz1pp1ljn00
Tom March 26, 2012 at 06:43 AM
I know I have probably taxed many of you out by expecting that you may be able to invest the synaptic energy in order to decipher the Hegelian Dialectic. I understand that there are much more important things to do in life – scamming Yankee or Met tickets from a crony in the office, bragging about Morton’s dinners, or even keeping abreast of what weirdo host of Americans Are Dumb will be airing this week. I know and I apologize. To my teacher friends: nice job playing the mums-the-word game – you have been a real asset to your profession. It would be a distortion however, something the Progressives are good at, to try and compare your behaviors with the likes of Plato. We certainly know that you guys can never walk in the footsteps of great men such as Socrates and Cicero because, despite the fact that they most definitely knew they would pay for their oppositions, they had conviction and feared silence more than death; that is, when given the choice of permanent exile or Hemlock, this honorable intellectual chose the hemlock.
Tom March 26, 2012 at 06:45 AM
So now they present the red flag – the battle which is being triangulated by problem-reaction-solution. Don’t get lost yet people; try to avoid switching over to your Facebook-Farmville algorithm therapy just yet. You see, it was never about the students or even the professional teachers – it was about the union bosses and the politicians or votes and contributions if it makes it any easier for you. The unions took care of the votes and the corporate oligarchs contributed the money. Now the In-The-Tank-Media is behaving in true lemming fashion by taking pot shots at you guys – a nibble hear and a nibble there in order to erode public support of the local educators. At the same time, the bottom feeding administrators that most of you are working for have been padding their exit strategy through advancements within the district or even going so far to arrange for advisory positions with some of the capital groups that are soon going to “transform” education as we know it.
Tom March 26, 2012 at 06:46 AM
Let’s make up a fake name for a local philanthropic charity foundation – let’s call it Stepping Bones – not to be confused with Skull and Bones. Stepping Bones has a panel of board members and registers as a foundation – a great way of sheltering all of their taxes from their capital investment fund they run. Their board members interlock and are members independently on other boards of other foundations also interested in tax sheltering foundations as well as an extremely radical agenda of bringing about a true scientific corporate dictatorship. The way these groups interlock is so complex that if one were to graph all of it, it looks more like a spider web. This group gives to this fund and then that one returns to another – all the while with a “common purpose” or “common cause.” At the same time, similar networks are located throughout our country and beyond. Let’s say one of the capital funds had stock holding having to do with technology software that tracked students in their academics, intelligence, behavior, the performance of the teachers, as well as social issues such as parental political opinions.
Tom March 26, 2012 at 06:46 AM
Let’s say that technology is expensive but is required in order to implement the mandated programs that come with the grants that they reward to the schools. Well that would be financially convenient wouldn’t it? Trust me. The people working on this “transformation” have been planning this for a long time. If accomplished, your profession will be reduced to a miserable job at best. You will be forced to endure having to work with less than qualified colleagues, as the decrease in pay will attract lower standards of teachers. This will further the result in reduced satisfaction and the new performance based assessments will quickly become a political and ideological tool that will leave you to finish the rest of your time Machiavellian style. Open your mouth. If you want, arrange to meet with me and let me do the hard stuff. It has to be done here.
Dom DeCicco April 02, 2012 at 06:42 AM
Let me give you an inside peak into how it works: "The way it works is this: The money the state uses to build public schools can also be used to build charter schools. The hedge fund folks build schools for less money than the government would. For example, a public school might cost $5 million to build, while a charter school could take that same amount of money and only use $3 million to build. What's left over, according to the source, goes into the hedge funds and their investors." http://www.indypressny.org/nycma/voices/482/news/news_5/
Dom DeCicco April 02, 2012 at 06:51 AM
In case ABC or CBS didn't burn your brains out last night with the packed line-up. Try reading this: "Clinton administration in 2000, Congress passed a new kind of tax credit called a New Markets tax credit. What this allows is it gives enormous federal tax credit to banks and equity funds that invest in community projects in underserved communities and it's been used heavily now for the last several years for charter schools." http://choosingdemocracy.blogspot.com/2010/05/hedge-funds-and-charter-schools.html
Dom DeCicco April 02, 2012 at 07:23 AM
Remember, when reading make sure to place yourself in a well lit area. Have plenty of rest the night before. and remember to take brief rests in between paragraphs. The average American has been so stupefied by these banker/schools that reading a Bazooka Joe is like reading Socrates. Good luck with giving away your control of private schools. http://www.nytimes.com/2010/05/10/nyregion/10charter.html?_r=1&pagewanted=2
Dom DeCicco April 02, 2012 at 07:25 AM
At least this union had the guts to say something about the financial bum-rush that is going on in their state. http://www.uft.org/news-stories/attack-hedge-fund-managers
Gabriel Kotter April 16, 2012 at 01:44 PM
While some put their hides on the line in order to speak out against what they perceived to be dangerous policy implementations within some of our schools, all but a few teachers played it safe and said nothing. While some tried to expose the eventual overthrow of local schooling as we have known it and its eventual transformation from what a free country would expect to what it will soon become, a degeneration of corporate despotism, most teachers and parents shied away from the possible retaliation of BIG CAPITAL and said nothing. When students were being desensitized by a ridiculous behavioral modification program that was designed NOT for them but for the antisocial students that have been mandated into the classrooms; again, teachers said NOTHING. It was all good with them; they were just doing what they were told. Isn’t it immoral to follow any order that is wrong or does a paycheck and benefits act as a disclaimer to such responsibilities of decency? The IDEA legislation has packed the schools with emotionally unstable children and, in my opinion, has placed children and staff across this nation in danger. But the teachers said very little. After all, more troubled students meant more assistants, right? Now they are instructing the socially functional students, forced to endure the doldrums of dumbed-down class, that if they are attacked, they will be just as guilty should they defend themselves. Oh really, where does it say that in State Statute?
Gabriel Kotter April 16, 2012 at 01:45 PM
This perpetrated fraud has forced schools across this nation to defend themselves with armed police officers through the pleasantly sounding “resource officer” program. What prey tell would be the resource that a professional police officer would have to offer any of our children inside a REAL facility of education? But that is NOT what they have been turned into. We may rue the day when our police officers stop being only police officers, when our teachers stop being only teachers, when social scientists (school psychologists) become the management of our protectors of freedom and government becomes merely an amalgamation of a scientifically controlled corporate dictatorship – an oligarchy of privatized foundations who will call all the shots from above as well as bellow. Keep taking that free money folks – see where it gets you.
Gabriel Kotter April 16, 2012 at 01:45 PM
Tom April 18, 2012 at 05:36 PM
Houston, we have a problem... "Turns out GNEPSA stands for the Great New England Public Schools Alliance." http://jonathanpelto.com/
Charles Cornwallace April 19, 2012 at 11:49 AM
"The family's lawsuit alleged school officials knew or should have known the boy's attacker had violent tendencies and failed to comply with a state anti-bullying law, said the Rosensteins' attorney, Jeffrey Youngman. The boy had punched another student in the face on a school bus a year earlier, but the school kept no record of it or other attacks and the attacker was not subjected to escalating discipline, the suit said." http://start.toshiba.com/news/read.php?rip_id=%3CD9U7EIF80%40news.ap.org%3E&ps=931
Tom April 30, 2012 at 07:44 AM
Judicial Watch covers the issue of hiding crime in schools pretty well in this article. Any school official who engages in this behavior should be fired and brought up on charges of risk of injury to the other minors they are responsible for supervising. http://www.judicialwatch.org/blog/2012/04/nearly-1-mil-public-school-crimes-not-reported-to-police/
Dom DeCicco April 30, 2012 at 07:59 AM
So they used the MYD thing in order to hide the real numbers of incidents that would have resulted in criminal charges or at least removal from the schools? In the end, they will report that the data suggests that suspensions and expulsions declined when all that happened was the criminal students was moved to another class or something?
Carmela Daponte-Smith November 27, 2012 at 12:54 AM
Hi, I'm the daughter of Beth Daponte, the sister of Noah, so don't say that my mother is wrong.
Carmela Daponte-Smith November 27, 2012 at 12:56 AM
I completely agree. I do it myself, Wooster has gotten much better educationally-wise, and it takes up lots of time.
Brian M. May 14, 2013 at 11:43 PM
agree 100%.........teach YOUR kids ! R-E-S-P-E-C-T ! You wanted them, take care of them. The schools are NOT baby-sitters. Be a parent !
Tom May 15, 2013 at 06:01 PM
Say "NO" to Make Your Day.
Theresa May 17, 2013 at 03:22 PM
The MYD program works. My son was a student in the class that was the proverbial match that lit the fire. The disrespect students had for each other, teachers and support staff was rampant. The halls were a nightmare, the teachers spent more time disciplining than teaching and the assistant principal was more of a corrections officer than an administrator. I love Brian M's comment because unfortunately some homes are sorely lacking in instilling the foundations of responsibility and good behavior.
Tom November 06, 2013 at 09:23 AM
I'm not responding to above because I think it is a fake post. BUT: You know you're a useless when you call yourself an educator, accept a pay check as one, and then refuse to help a seven year old student with an arm cast on button her pants button after using the bathroom. If YOU needed a witness to protect yourself from false accusation, you should have gotten one-- instead of ignoring the little girl and allowing her to spend the rest of the day with unbuttoned pants. Useless.. It's called dignity and the fostering of self respect. You know, the garbage rights you would have been crying to your union representative about had it been you who had been deprived of them. You know you're useless when a seven year old comes to you and asks to use the bathroom and you instead threaten that if she asks again, it would be the equivalent of asking for a "step"-- a demented form of discipline under the Make Your Day program that has been shoved down the throats of tax payers in this town, despite the rational resistance that was expressed by concerned parents. You know you're a useless administrator of such employees when, under your guidance, such issues are left to be debated within the same sphere that they spawn from, instead of making a leadership decision that all policies will be equally implemented in ALL of the schools under your helm. Not by implementing deranged programs in particular school where you know you will be met by minimal resistance due to demographic circumstance. That is being an opportunist of the lowest denominator-- YOU. This is by no means an indictment to all in the field, merely a specific shoe size that is no longer needed.


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