Schools Should Eliminate the Use of Zero-Tolerance Policies Essay

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The public schools of the United States, despite their proud past, are currently experiencing many difficulties. They seem to be under constant scrutiny and pressure to produce higher academic achievement and at the same time are being criticized by large segments of society. It is no secret that the environment which students experience in the public schools has changed greatly over the past twenty to thirty years, but there are many possible reasons for this; most of these explanations do not place the blame squarely on the schools themselves. Public schools are responsible for one thing, however, and that is the manner in which they react to the changes that take place. Prompted by increased discipline problems within school halls,…show more content…
I believe this intention fails on two counts: it does not deter worse events from taking place and is actually a mockery of true justice.

First of all, the separate actions encompassed in zero-tolerance policies are often so different--both in intent and possible results--that they are only related in very superficial ways. A student who brings a plastic knife to school to peel an orange is not on the same level as one who brings a machete in his or her backpack; in the former, there is obviously no intent to harm another student, nor would it be possible with such an item. Yet, under a policy of zero-tolerance, the two infractions could be punished in much the same way. The punishment of the lesser offence will almost always be exaggerated, making the crime seem more severe than it actually is; this is, in fact, the thinking behind zero-tolerance policies. Actions like these hardly seem effective in preventing worse things from taking place, as they don't take into account the actual motivation behind why a student might actually bring a weapon to school with the intent to harm others. A student who is willing to put him- or herself in that position is not likely to stop simply because others have been punished severely for much less severe infractions.

I believe the thinking behind

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