Comp II Research Paper

Submitted By tansed1212
Words: 2491
Pages: 10

Zero Tolerance in Schools: More Harmful than Helpful

In recent years, schools continue to look for ways to effectively discipline children for

major and minor behavior problems. Zero tolerance has been the most used form of discipline to

date. Schools began using zero tolerance in the 1980s as a result of acts of violence in schools

that left school officials and students feeling unprotected. These policies were originally put in

place for protection against guns and weapons. Over the years the policies have been revised and

have become more problematic than presumed. Are zero tolerance policies in school harming

students rather than helping? Recent studies have come to show that in order for children to get

an education, they must remain in a school setting. This cannot happen if students are unable

to remain in school due to minor offenses. Zero tolerance policies should be revised because

it can punish the well-intended.

To emphasize, while zero tolerance policies were once only used for major offenses, now

the policies are used for minor offenses as well, resulting in suspension and expulsion. Garman

and Walker reveal the solution most commonly used is the zero-tolerance policy (289+). The

solution of zero-tolerance policy has become useful to school administrators that are over

stressed and over worked because it takes the work out individual decision making and applying

one rule to every situation no matter the differences ( Garman Walker 289+). Martinez observes

that the zero tolerance policy is misused and when implemented, usually leads to suspension or

expulsion (153+). Martinez scrutinizes that “using this policy to suspend and expel students-

thus excluding them from receiving an education- does not benefit anyone” (153+). Garman

and Walker argue that the result of a child bringing an item to school that school officials apply

to the policy, is the student being suspended for a certain period of time or, in some severe cases,

expelled (289+).

In the beginning, zero-tolerance policies were pre-determined and used for certain acts of

misbehavior (Browne-Dianis 24). Now the policies were being used to implement minor

offenses. For example, ten year old Shannon Coslet from Twin Peaks Charter School in

Colorado was expelled due to Shannon’s mother placing a small knife in her bag to peel an apple

(Garman and Walker 289+). Garman and Walker reveal that when Shannon realized she had the

knife, she turned it in to her teacher, to be expelled as a result of the zero-tolerance policy

(289+). Browne-Dianis reviews that in 2000, Rev. Jesse Jackson protested about a very harsh

punishment handed down to seven African American male students (24). The students were

involved in an altercation at a high school football game in Decatur, Illinois (Browne-Dianis 24).

The seventeen second altercation involved no weapons; however, the school board used

its zero-tolerance policy and suspended all seven boys for two consecutive years (Browne-Dianis

24). Brown-Dianis argues that in the ten years, zero tolerance has become a large quantity

of harsh rules and penalties that eliminate youth from school and learning for a very slim

range of misbehaviors, even the most basic (24). Rodriguez reveals that Lindsay Tanner

was a normal eighth grade honor student that loved hanging with friends and shopping (469+).

Nevertheless, Lindsay’s life changed drastically after offering a Midol pill to a classmate

(Rodriguez 469+). Rodriguez reveals that because of the zero-tolerance policy in place at

Lindsay’s school, she was immediately expelled and treated as if she was in possession of a

controlled substance (469+).Stuart indicates that “the phrases “habitual truant, incorrigible,

continuously disruptive, and detrimental to health and safety” allow for students to be

dismissed from school for a very broad spectrum of low-level offenses” (469+). Research has

shown a link