How do you feel about zero tolerance? : LUSENET : Melting Pot : One Thread

I posted an article about zero tolerance in my weblog this morning. I have to admit that I agree with the author's take on the whole thing. What do you think? Are people taking the zero tolerance thing too far? Or do you think it is beneficial and necessary?

-- Lee M (, August 07, 2000


Thank you Terence for your response. I do agree with what you said. I think zero tolerance is a great tool, if only the system learns to use it appropriately. You did a great job at shedding some light on the topic for me. I appreciate it.

-- Lee M (, August 09, 2000.

Zero tolerance in schools? Yes, I definitely think that there is a time and a place for it. For the past decade (and probably more), many legislators (along with school boards) have spent way too much time trying to figure out exactly what is wrong with our education system. Are computers the answer? Should we privatize schools? Are they spending enough hours of the day in school? Are they spending enough days of the year in school? Should we go to a year-round schedule? Should class periods be longer? Are class sizes too large? Why are students bringing guns to school?

Obviously there isn't one answer. However, I suspect that a big part of it is the helplessness of teachers and administrators to discipline children when they misbehave. Principals and teachers are sued when they resort to physical punishment nowadays, whereas when most of us were children, it was pretty common. And giving detentions and 1 day suspensions doesn't seem to quite have the effect that one would expect. Students do not have much to lose these days by misbehaving.

Zero tolerance policies are definitely a step in the right direction, *if* they are applied fairly. In my opinion, 6 year-olds are not old enough to understand causal relationships. Zero tolerance policies can only be effective when the people that it is being used against understand the consequences of their actions, which is why they should only be used in high schools, and then maybe junior high schools. Furthermore, the policy has to be publicized beforehand, in order not to create a magnet for protests and legal actions (in addition to the issue of fairness). And obviously, the punishment has to fit the crime. A student that is passing notes during class should not receive the same punishment as students who bring guns to school. All students are going to commit _small_ transgressions as part of their normal learning experiences, and thus should be forgiven for them. These policies can only be effective if they make sense to the students that they are used against.

In my experience, most students who have these policies used against them are offered alternative education, which is the way that it should be. In addition, the seemingly ridiculous application of zero tolerance policies are the exception and not the rule. I apologize in advance for the lengthy response.


-- Terence W (, August 07, 2000.

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