Zero Tolerance means Zero Responsibility

I am up to here with zero tolerance policies in public schools.  Zero Tolerance policies are not designed to make rules enforcement better or safer -- the are designed to relieve school administrators of all decision-making responsibility.  Now, I am sympathetic to school districts that are constantly getting hit with all kinds of lawsuits for about any decision they make, but the answer is not to stop making decisions.  Zero Tolerance is a way to cover bureaucrats backsides from criticism while trashing the lives of individual students.  There are many many examples, but this is as good as any:

A 10-year-old fourth-grade girl at Holme Elementary School in the Far Northeast was pulled out of class, handcuffed, and taken to the local police station in the back of a police wagon earlier this week after a pair of 8-inch scissors were found in her book bag, according to authorities and her angry mother.

I have a ten year old - I can't imagine how nuts I would go about this if it happened to my kid.  You can find more examples at Zero Intelligence.  This is yet another reason why, while I might be willing to invest more public money in education, I would no more likely give more money to the current management of most public schools than I would give money to a Nigerian emailer.

  • Mary Lou LeBlanc

    My 8-year-old granddaughter recently received internal suspension due to zero tolerance for a notebook that another girl put in her desk describing what my granddaughter and three other girls had discussed on the phone the night before that they were going to do to a 4th classmate, including throwing water in her face at PE, giving her a dead animal, putting "yukky stuff" in a spray bottle that they would tell her was hairspray. The notebook was copied by one girl and then given to the other two girls. I truly believe my granddaughter had the least to do with any of it, but is not blameless. However she was put through a horrible morning at school is physically sick over the fact that she will have to spend a day at school in internal suspension the school police officer was called in to talk with them especially when she just got her report card this morning that was all A's and a glowing report from her teacher.