A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that although the discipline problems addressed in this reality series -- which documents how various high school principals manage their schools -- are generally rather mild and relatable for teens (being late to class, text messaging during school hours, etc.), occasionally more serious issues like smoking come up. One principal gives students the choice of accepting Saturday detention or corporal punishment -- an option that won't sit well with all viewers. In the same episode, a student can be heard crying out when being hit by the paddle, but the punishment isn't shown. Students sometimes mouth off to authority figures (the occasional swear words, like "s--t," are bleeped out).
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
THE PRINCIPAL'S OFFICE is an unscripted series that follows high school administrators from around the country as they use their own personal style to manage their schools. Viewers get to see how the featured principals, assistant principals, and deans react to the strangest (and sometimes lamest) excuses for not following the rules, dole out punishments, and handle parents who refuse to accept that their son or daughter requires disciplinary action.
Is it any good?
Overall, the series offers a rather sanitized version of what many principals deal with on a daily basis. While many of the student offenses the adminstrators deal with are minor infractions, others are potentially more problematic (for example, one principal discovers that a student is chronically late to class due to a growing addiction to menthol cigarettes). Some of the students' reactions to being disciplined for their actions are mildly entertaining, but other teens become belligerent or disrespectful when they have to face authority figures or are forced to face the consequences of their actions.
The administrators are quick to point out that they expect students to be respectful and learn to take responsibility for their actions. But some of their disciplinary styles raise questions, too. Some principals rely solely on black and white rules to deal with what are sometimes complex behavioral issues, and at least one uses corporal punishment. But despite these issues, these high school overseers make a point of requiring students to learn that to every action there is a consequence, and that rules are not made to be broken. Bottom line? Not only may teens (and even some mature older tweens) enjoy this show, but they might also learn a thing or two about staying out of trouble, too.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about what messages this show is trying to convey. Do you think it's trying to make specific points about teens? School discipline? Do you think the show helps or hurts the image of school principals? Kids: How do your principals compare to the ones shown here? Parents: Do you remember your high school principal? What stands out? Families can also discuss corporal punishment in public schools. Do you think paddling is an appropriate or acceptable form of discipline? What if the student chooses it?