Feds won’t tolerate ‘zero tolerance’

“Zero tolerance” policies — adopted to ensure uniform punishments — are too harsh, says the Obama administration, which issued an advisory on school discipline.

“Ordinary troublemaking can sometimes provoke responses that are overly severe, including out of school suspensions, expulsions and even referral to law enforcement and then you end up with kids that end up in police precincts instead of the principal’s office,” Attorney General Eric Holder said.

Blacks, Latinos and students with disabilities are much more likely to be suspended or expelled than non-disabled whites, according to federal civil rights data. That’s fueled the campaign for more flexible school discipline.

The recommendations encourage schools to train teachers and staff in classroom management and conflict resolution, offer counseling to students, teach social and emotional skills and avoid using security or police officers to handle routine discipline issues.

Training school administrators to make common-sense decisions about school safety. . . Can it be done?

Under “disparate impact doublespeak,” schools must make punishments fit the percentages, writes Joshua Dunn, a University of Colorado political science professor, on Flypaper.

. . . schools still “violate Federal law when they evenhandedly implement facially neutral policies” that were adopted with no intent to discriminate “but nonetheless have an unjustified effect of discriminating against students on the basis of race.”  Ordinary English users can be forgiven if they find themselves scratching their heads asking, “How could evenhanded and neutral policies actually be discriminatory?  Doesn’t discrimination require someone, you know, actually discriminating?”

. . . If we accept the guideline’s assumption that disruptive behavior should be evenly distributed across racial groups, Asian students are woefully underpunished.

Students who want to learn will be the losers, he predicts. Federal bureaucrats will be “winners since these guidelines give them another pretext to meddle in local schools.”

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  1. One of the reasons Zero Tolerance was instituted was to avoid having to deal with such “disparate impact” arguments.

    There is no discussion of the fact that minorities, especially Blacks, are much more likely to be the victim of social pathologies which coorelates with misbehavior. (such as poverty, single parenthood, parents in jail etc)

    Correlation is not causation, and this release from the government is bad policy and bad science used for political reasons.

  2. The classroom is for learning, not troublemaking.

    It doesn’t matter what the admin tells the school to do, as the victims will press charges against both the school district and the perp. The district is cutting its expenses when it hires an SRO and security force rather than work thru all the court cases and the workman’s comp.

  3. Do those supporting such idiocy realize what they are really saying? Blacks and Hispanics cannot, and should not, be expected to meet the school deportment standards that were usual until the 60s or so; walk and sit quietly, keep your hands and feet to yourself,take turns, pay attention, do not speak without permission and show respect to staff and fellow students. Really? And that’s not even close to the worse kinds of behavior that far too many exhibit on a regular basis.

  4. A&B is a ‘relatively minor offense’ unless you’re the kid, teacher, administrator on the receiving end. The soft bigotry of low expectations strikes again.

  5. Zero tolerance == zero common sense in minor issues.

    A recent example was a kid who was suspended for making a gun out of a Kellogg’s Pop-Tart, or the kid who was making his hand into the shape of a gun and going bang.

    The last time I checked, the only person I know who can make a gun with their hand and shoot someone with it is Chuck Norris 🙂

  6. Richard Aubrey says:

    A year’s worth of the result ought to be sufficient evidence for a lawsuit on behalf of a kid victimized by other kids claiming the school failed to provide a safe environment.
    Unless it’s like the knockout game which doesn’t actually, you know, happen. But if it does, it still didn’t happen.

    • Richard Aubrey says:

      Speaking of lawsuits: Not only will Asians be at greater risk and thus possible claimants, they’ll have to be disciplined considerbly more often and more harshly than heretofore and more than other ethnic groups. Another possible claim.
      Can’t wait to see this play out.
      In fact, it could be called discrimination.

  7. Do the authoritarians making these decrees have any ideas what the students (of all races) are going to do when they read these policies? They’re going to milk them for all they’re worth, push them to their legal limits, and destroy many K-12 school environments (many of which are already damaged as it is now) in the process.

    When the teachers who care about more than a paycheck see that the inmates have taken over the asylum (the students will in effect take over the campus with their shrewd manipulation of these policies, as they already have in some school districts around the country) they will get out as fast as they can. Then where will our K-12 education system nationwide be?