There is no doubt that schools need some disciplinary action to maintain school safety and promote learning. Proper discipline ensures the safety of students and teachers, creates conductive learning, and removes troublemakers in order to improve the school climate for others. By 1993 The Kalamazoo Public Schools have adopted a zero-tolerance policy out of fear towards punishment. According to Russell Skiba, an American educational psychologist known for researching school discipline and school violence, “this zero-tolerance policy has lead to an substantial increase of expulsions, suspensions, and dropout rates” (Skiba). The National Center of Education Statistics Report that “94% of schools in the US have a zero tolerance for weapons and firearms and 87% have a zero tolerance for alcohol.” (education stats) Kalamazoo Public Schools claims that they implemented the zero tolerance policy to send a message that certain behaviors will not be tolerated no matter how minor. The zero- tolerance policy seems to cause more problems than it solves. According to school suspension rates from Kalamazoo Public Schools, school suspension is not reserved for the severe behaviors. Although school fights and violence are the leading causes for suspension, lesser non-violent crimes (tardiness, cutting class) have the same punishment. The zero-tolerance policy needs to be changed to be more lenient towards less severe crimes. Certain behaviors in schools should have different punishments
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Zero-tolerance policies developed to prevent drug abuse and violence in school in 1990 in the U.S. Even if those behaviors or small things minor offenses were done by accident or unconsciously, students get prosecuted and sent into the juvenile justice system as a punishment. Schools create disciplines for suspending and expelling students when they break certain rules. For example, if a student brings a weapon to school, including items that may not hurt anyone like nail clippers and toy guns, if a student has drugs, including medications or alcohol on campus, if a student says anything that someone could get as a threat, if a student does not obey teacher’s instruction, if a student fights with other students, the student would be given punishment with no choice. After adopting this policy, the number of school suspensions and dismissals increased, and the number of students who send into the prison also increased as well. Therefore, the school to prison pipeline became an issue in the education system.
Proponents of change have noted that the school to prison pipeline has been perpetrated by harsh discipline guidelines and policies placed in schools. Russell J. Skiba, Ph.D., a Professor in Counseling and Educational Psychology at Indiana University, defined Zero Tolerance policies as
The school-to-prison pipeline in the United States is a figure of speech used to describe the increasing patterns of interaction students have with the juvenile and adult criminal justice systems as a consequence of procedures used by many school systems. A specific procedure would be the zero tolerance policies and the use of officers in schools. Currently in today’s American schools many children of color are being unfairly judged and treated by the public school systems zero tolerance policies. Zero tolerance policies have been implemented in schools in the last 20 years that include inserting school resource officers in schools and cracking down on all behavior that any authority figure may deem as a form of bad behavior. The policy is based upon deterring future misbehavior and is central to the philosophy of zero tolerance, and the effect of any punishment on future behavior is what defines effective punishment (Skinner, 1953). Zero tolerance policies causes the school environment to feel more like a prison and ultimately leads to black and Latinos being judged and guided to the prison system. A zero-tolerance policy orders predetermined penalties or punishments for specific wrongdoings.
They are given complete discretion on how they want to implement rules in their district. School safety is one of the main reasons for adopting a zero tolerance of violence policy and educational leaders are focused on handling these types of situations with safety in mind. Moreover, this was the basis for which the nine students were punished. Regardless of the reasons students become involved in negative situations, they may be held responsible and face the consequences of their actions. That is, students may still be disciplined in spite of their motives. In this regard, the zero tolerance of violence policy does not preclude making decisions about student intent and motivation of individual students. Conversely, students are allowed their due process rights, where they are able to dispute any accusations or problems they have with the decisions made against
Zero tolerance policies arose during the late 1980’s in response to a rising tide of juvenile arrests for violent offenses and the expanding view of youth as dangerous. During this time discipline in educational settings became much more formal and rigid. Discretion was removed from teachers and administrative staff in favor of broadly instituted policies, which often involved law enforcement and arrest. In 1994 Congress passed the Gun-Free Schools Act, which forced states to pass laws mandating expulsion for a minimum of one year for bringing a weapon to school in order to receive federal education funds. By the mid 90’s roughly 80% of schools had adopted zero tolerance policies beyond the federal requirements and in response the federal government began to increase funding for security guards and other school based law enforcement officers and equipment. These changes occurred primarily between 1996 and 2008 and mirrored changes in the juvenile justice system to more closely emulate the adult system.
Zero tolerance started as a way to keep guns out of schools until the staff at school started to use it as a way to report and punish non serious offences (Heitzeg, 2009).
With the creation of the zero tolerance policy, it changed the way student are being disciplined. In the 1990’s, in fear of the increasing crime rate, The United States Congress created a law that allowed public schools to enforce strict disciplinary policies for misbehaving students (Mental Health America). The zero tolerance policy states: “[the policy] mandates predetermined consequences or punishments for specific offenses that are intended to be applied regardless of the seriousness of the behavior, mitigating circumstances, or situational context”
The term “zero tolerance” emerged from the get-tough rhetoric surrounding the war on drugs (McNeal, 2016). In the 1990’s, the term moved to into the educational vernacular due to a mass fear of violence in schools, particularly in reference to firearms. The Gun Free Schools Act of 1994, solidified the implementation of these get-tough policies (McNeal, 2016) and by 1998, the rehabilitative behavioral processes on most campuses across the country were replaced with zero tolerance policies (Rodríguez, 2017). Although they were implemented to combat school violence, school related deaths, despite the perception, have actually decreased since the 1990s (Welch & Payne, 2010). However, zero tolerance policies are still becoming more and more prevalent in schools. These policies have
Zero tolerance policies are the catalyst for the School-to-Prison pipeline. The problem with zero tolerance policies rely on several different factors. Even though, the vision for zero tolerance policies is clear in the sense that safety is a main priority, A ten year study of zero tolerance policies conducted by the American Psychological Association concluded that the use of these overly harsh policies "did not improve school safety." Since these policies are not increasing school safety it is a clear indicator that change in disciplinary methods is necessary. Additionally, these overly harsh policies create racial disparities mainly focused on minorities. The reason for these racial disparities particularly arise from implicit bias. Unfortunately, student of color and minorities are disportionately represented in suspensions, expulsions, and arrests. Exclusionary discipline principles disproportionately lead the youth, particularly minorities, from classrooms to court and prisons. Racial disparities within school’s disciplinary actions is clear when looking at discipline rates. The Civil Rights Data Collection, gathered by the US Department of Education, graphed suspension rates and disparities in a national test sample during 2012. Figure 1 portrays the ratio of white students that constitute for a little more than half of students enrolled in school while black and hispanic students constitute for less than
Rebecca London, a research professor at UC Santa Cruz, explains about how the zero tolerance policy plays a critical role in developing the school-to-prison pipeline. The zero tolerance policy was implemented in 1990 in hopes to reduce the amount of criminal related activity in schools (London 2017). Because of the policy, many minor or small infringement of the school rules criminalized at-risk students. For example, students were punished heavily for carrying nail clippers, having over the counter medications, and even cutting the lunch line (London 2017). Students who partake in any of the examples or anything similar will be suspended or face tougher consequences than normal discipline actions compared to a privileged school. By punishing
"Zero tolerance" policies are the new theme in fighting weapons and drugs in schools. These policies behind the pressure of President Clinton have been enacted in 47 states. The idea is to encourage states to get tough on youth that threaten their own safety and the safety of others. Some of the more popular measures with these policies include installing metal detectors at school entrances, the use of armed security guards to patrol and monitor students, and the automatic removal of students who break rules regarding weapons and drugs. According to the Department of Education, school districts that have enacted these policies are showing improvements in these areas. For example, Dade county public school officials seized only 110 guns in the past year from 193 the previous year after enacting a zero tolerance policy.
“Zero-Tolerance Policy” is the leading cause of most disobedient students, the reason why most students drop out of school and the cause of insubordination among students. The Zero-Tolerance Policy is a policy that, like the name states, has zero-tolerance for anything. Anything seen as a threat or anything that sends an inappropriate message towards the community is considered bad and the student could get arrested, suspended and/or expelled. The Zero-Tolerance policy applies to any student, regardless if a student has any health problems and falls to any student between the ages of 4-18. It could also apply to a student who could have the lowest amount of infractions possible. They say that removing students is necessary for learning, but, in doing that, they hurt the student as well. Some places don’t provide alternative places for students to learn at, really taking away their education. If it really ensures a safe and orderly environment for children, then there should be proof. There is no actual proof that it makes students feel safer (Wahl, "School Zero Tolerance Policies Do Harm" par. 1). It alienates the student and makes the student feel as if they are the “odd-one out”. Due to the injustices that this creates, the Zero-Tolerance Policy is ineffective, because it teaches students injustice, lowers students academic rates and minor offences are punished.
The zero tolerance policy has become a national controversy in regards to the solid proven facts that it criminalizes children and seems to catch kids who have no intention of doing harm. Although, there has been substantial evidence to prove that the policies enforced in many schools have gone far beyond the extreme to convict children of their wrongdoing. The punishments for the act of misconduct have reached a devastating high, and have pointed students in the wrong direction. Despite the opinions of administrators and parents, as well as evidence that zero tolerance policies have deterred violence in many public and private schools, the rules of conviction and punishment are unreasonable and should be modified.
School violence has become of the most pressing educational problems in the United States. Gang violence and high profile shootings across the nation cause concern within schools. Communities struggle to understand why these events take place and how they can be prevented. The overwhelming response to solve the issue of violence in schools is the increasing societal pressure to execute zero tolerance. Zero tolerance is driven by the educational philosophy, policies, and practices of school communities. Stakeholders expect schools to be a safe place for staff and for students. Stakeholders assume that a positive classroom environment, safe students, and school enjoyment are conditions necessary to create a positive climate where learning takes place. This assumption can be backed with research. A calm classroom environment, teachers’ management of disruptive behavior, and students’ view of school safety are factors that have been found to directly correlate with student achievement in the classroom (Ma & Willms, 2004). Safety and a feeling of not being threatened during school hours have been found to be important to students’ achievement. Failure to remove a disruptive or an unruly student from school has been found to have a negative impact on achievement and creates a great risk to school staff and students (Garbarino et al., 1992). Teachers cannot teach and students cannot learn in an
Once clearly defined, enforcing the zero tolerance policies can be relatively easy for the offenses related to illegal drugs and alcohol. These are serious threats to school safety and using common sense when applying the policies against such offenses should help. Violence on the other hand is more difficult to define at schools because it can take many forms. Under the Gun-Free Schools Act of 1994, in order for school