[ View the story "Have 'zero tolerance' policies gone too far? " on Storify] Have 'zero tolerance' policies gone too far? The rate of suspensions and expulsions in secondary schools has increased by 40% in the last four decades. Are zero tolerance policies doing more harm than good?
AJAMStream· Tue, Mar 11 2014 13:40:00
as a response to the 1999 Columbine school shooting,
polices have become a controversial method of discipline in American schools. School suspensions and expulsions are now commonly used as responses to an array of student infractions.
Dozens of instances have incurred harsh penalties, sparking outrage. These range from a
making his fingers look like a gun, to a
kissing a girl on the hand, and a
chewing a pop-tart into the shape of a gun.
Zero Tolerance School Regulations...Out of hand. http://t.co/cZts4ApLyrGordon
@butzmom @AJAMStream curiosity and free-thinking should be rewarded not punished even if "disorderly" at times.Hai-Jung Theresa Kim
that these policies disproportionately affect students of color, particularly young African-American and Latino men. According to the Department of Education, African-American students are more than three times as likely as their white counterparts to be expelled or suspended.
Advocates working to change zero tolerance policies believe they are part of a trend called "
," which systemically prevents or discourages young people from completing their education.
@AJAMStream with #zerotolerance kids frustrate easier and shut down quickerNJ Bats
Many consider "school pushout" to be a catalyst in the "
," a "prioritization of incarceration over education" which, according to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), pushes the nation's most at-risk children out of classrooms and into the criminal justice system.
.@AJAMStream Kids should be in classrooms, not in prisons. Harsh #ZeroTolerance policies are not the answer. #AJAMStream #school2prisonAdvancement Project
Below, a video from the
, highlights the consequences felt by children who have been affected by zero tolerance:
Florida Students Caught in School-to-Prison Pipelineadvprojectdc
In the last four decades, the number of students expelled over the course of a school year has increased by
was suspended after holding up three fingers: his thumb, forefinger and middle finger in a class photo.
Teachers believed the gesture was gang-related and suspended Bruce for three days. Bruce insists that he was making reference to his football jersey number. However, in an interview with The Stream, his mother, Janet Hightower, said the school's principal determined otherwise after bringing in a gang specialist.
Below, 15-year-old Dontadrian Bruce reenacts the hand gesture he made in a school photo:
Outrage in Olive Branch over the expulsion of anlocalmemphis.com
Initially, the school told Hightower that her son would be expelled for the rest of the year. "I was shocked. How could you take him out of school for rest of the year? He’s not a problem child he’s not at trouble maker," she said.
Bruce was able to return to school without expulsion, but ACLU research
that students who face expulsion are more likely to fall behind in their coursework, disengage and drop out of school, leading to a dismal future.
The Stream community weighed in on the issue. Some believe zero tolerance is harmful to learning:
@AJAMStream Aren't mistakes part of the learning process? #Zerotolerance seems to impede learning process for extremely young students.Michael Dean
While others believe zero tolerance is not the problem:
@AJAMStream Zero tolerance is not the problem. Stop placing blame upon the schools with large percentage of "spoiled brats."travelinman4
Some teachers and administrators
zero tolerance policies are effective in keeping schools safe. What do you think? Leave your thoughts below.