I recently read this story from the CNN:
(CNN) — There was no profanity, no hate. Just the words, “I love my friends Abby and Faith. Lex was here 2/1/10 :)” scrawled on the classroom desk with a green marker.
Alexa Gonzalez, an outgoing 12-year-old who likes to dance and draw, expected a lecture or maybe detention for her doodles earlier this month. Instead, the principal of the Junior High School in Forest Hills, New York, called police, and the seventh-grader was taken across the street to the police precinct. Read the entire story here.
So what is this? It is a classic example of why zero tolerance is idiotic, and dangerous. I’ve known this for years, but zero tolerance policies continue to be in place around the country, for one reason: administrators, teachers, coaches, and the courts are all relieved of the duty of actually making decisions. Instead of considering appropriate measures and acting on them, they call, literally or figuratively, 911, and instantly it becomes someone else’s problem. It is not the way a healthy, mature society functions, but the structure of a culture that values obedience above all else.
Ironically, when I read about jackasses like the administrators who took these actions, I fantasize about ultra-draconian retaliation. Viscerally, I want to have everyone fired, and I want them to know I think they are a bunch of f*cking assholes, which they probably are. Deep inside, I hope this girl’s parents sue that school system into the stone age. However, I know in my intellect that such drama wouldn’t help anyone, least of all the children who live under this peculiar form of tyranny.
For many reasons, this is just not a good time for kids to be enrolled in public school. That’s just my humble opinion which may not be worth much but stories like this one are coming more frequently. I’m glad those days are behind me now. That’s just muh 2 sense.
Sadly, there’s a good reason for zero-tolerance policies. One by one, we took away the tools that a teacher has to correct children. Parents and school boards rode the teachers and administrators from both sides until they had little choice but to develop these policies.
While I do *not* agree with a single “zero-tolerance” policy I’ve ever heard of, I think I would have come up with the same policies if I were in these situations.
Addendum: I was uncomfortable with my former comment and wanted to explain further that I’ve been to dozens of school board meetings where a teacher or administrator has suggested a forward-thinking policy. In many cases, the ideas were shot down by a *single* complaining parent or school board member, with little to no discussion… So, not only is it now illegal for schools to discipline the way they used to, but we don’t let them come up with any new ideas?