Monday, June 03, 2002

Zero Tolerance Matters

Neoflux's Our Horrible Children is a blog that juxtaposes real horrible acts by children with stupid examples of zero-tolerance policies. Sometimes the children are truly horrible and sometimes the school officials are horrible.

But either way, zero-tolerance policies have real consequences for real people. They tie the hands of teachers, principals, and administrators to make individual judgments based on their knowledge of a situation. They create “one-size-fits-all” policies that lead to both absurd and tragic consequences—-a five year-old being expelled for pointing a chicken finger and saying “bang-bang" on the one extreme and a child dying because they were not allowed to carry their asthma inhaler on the other.

They give many publications “fodder” to use against public schools. From the Wall Street Journal’s zero tolerance watch” to Reason Online's brickbats, zero tolerance incidents make amusing and compelling stories for publication. As the examples from Our Horrible Children demonstrate, zero tolerance policies often undermine the credibility of public school administrators, and then they hurt their credibility later when administrators might need to be taken more seriously.

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