Action Item 16: Spending $300K on a Program to Help Schools “Keep Track” of PBIS Points and Rewards

by Kristin Luebbert

I’m dispensing with niceties since y’all dispensed with a minute of testimony
time. Kristin Luebbert, teacher, Racial Justice Organizing. You know who you
are, although some reflection on what that means may be in order.

Action Item 16: Spending 300,000 dollars on a program to help schools “keep
track” of PBIS points and rewards.


First: We are in a budget crisis. You keep saying so. Everyone keeps saying so.
Therefore there should be a complete halt to all non-essential spending. We
simply cannot a ord it. It is just an unnecessary expense. It is not something
schools should be allowed to spend out of their budgets. It also duplicates a
very simple thing we all have access to already: A SPREADSHEET!
If schools and teachers REALLY want to waste time and effort on PBIS
programs they can easily keep track of such things on a Google spreadsheet.
We do not need a fancied-up expensive version. And, no, we have not been
“exceedingly looking” for this as the bizarrely worded proposal claims.

Second: And more importantly, PBIS is a terrible, manipulative, disrespectful
way to treat our students. Its origins and motivations are completely
Skinner-esque; it undermines the idea of self-determination and intrinsic
rewards, and it certainly does not help build the trusting relationships that
create a good learning environment. This carrot-and-stick approach to
“managing Behavior” is an insidious part of the school-to-prison pipeline
that we are striving to destroy. It tells our students every day they cannot be
trusted to make good decisions. In the end PBIS programs grow less effective
over time, and they are a waste of effort. PBIS systems enact mental violence
and White Supremacist norms and values on our students every day, and we
should NOT be encouraging them at all, let alone paying money to enable

Please read Alfie Kohn’s book Punished by Rewards or Daniel Pinks’s book Drive
to understand these issues better.