Rethinking zero tolerance

States are rethinking draconian discipline policies adopted after the Columbine shootings in 1999, reports Stateline.

Now, recent outcries over arrests of elementary students and mounting evidence that zero-tolerance policies adversely impact disadvantaged students have sparked a debate over the proper balance between safety and tolerance in America’s schools. Some of the first stirrings of a possible retrenchment can be seen in three states — Indiana, Mississippi and Texas — where a handful of lawmakers are trying to reverse the trend of adopting ever-more stringent discipline policies.

. . . Highly publicized arrests in Florida and Nevada in the past two months are among dozens of examples where zero-tolerance policies have gone too far, critics say. In January, two grade-school children were arrested in Ocala, Fla., for drawing threatening stick figures in class. A 6-year-old in Florida’s Brevard County was handcuffed and removed from school for hitting his teacher and a police officer with a book. And in Nevada, Clark County School District officials recently tried to expel a student who drew a comic strip depicting the death of his teacher.

“Zero tolerance” often means “zero common sense.”

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  1. Half Canadian says:

    What’s wrong with removing a 6-year old in handcuffs for hitting a teacher (much less a police officer)? You let things like that slide and they will be going to prison some day. Better to nip that attitude in the bud.

  2. “…hit her on the bean with a rotten tangerine…”

  3. Walter E. Wallis says:

    Require all teachers to pack heat and give them a 006-1/2 license – license to maim.

  4. Caffeinated Curmudgeon says:

    From the article:

    >”Clearly I think there are incidents that are so
    > excessive that the facts show that this is a
    > mindless policy in most places,” said Mark Soler,
    > president of the Youth Law Center, a Washington,
    > D.C.-based law firm that works on child-welfare
    > and juvenile justice system issues.

    “Mindless” is a gross understatement when a 1st grader is expelled or arrested for “drawing a threatening stick figure”. “Take the admin off the payroll, because he’s flat-line brain dead” comes a little closer.

  5. Bluemount says:

    I believe the same non-sense that goes on in acadmic training, cover’s it tracks by blaming the child with zero tolerance discipline. Peer discipline, leadership training and child-helpers create failure for the majority of students. There is nothing an independent child can latch onto when their peers fail. The leaders benefit and all the other children do not. The group model of education ridicules and ostracizes a child through peer pressure because they don’t have the verbal and social skills to express that well. The reactive child can only interpret this as unfair since they do not have the capacity for mature behavior and will not gravitate to maturity through humiliation.

     this kid’s been in a group home since January 8th. The gun shot plastic pellets, and it couldn’t shoot through a piece of paper.

    Micheal would often disrupt the class by singing, talking out of turn, leaving his desk without permission and making noises. His classmates would encourage him to disrupt class, and he would comply, Mandy Beam said.

    Yes, there are problems in the school but, when did zero tolerance and foster care become the preferred way of disciplining children. If you tell parents to trust their children to the experts and the experts fail who’s to blame.