POLL: Should Schools Ease 'Zero Tolerance' Policies?

The Obama administration has issued guidelines aimed at keeping students in the classroom.

Are zero tolerance policies too harsh? Credit: Morguefile
Are zero tolerance policies too harsh? Credit: Morguefile
By Kristi Reed

After years of increasingly widespread use of "zero tolerance" policies in schools, the Obama administration is asking school officials to revisit their disciplinary methods.

On Jan. 8, the administration issued guidelines recommending law enforcement be used as a tool of last resort. In a letter to school officials, the administration asserted the use of "zero tolerance" policies has affected students of certain racial and ethnic groups more than their peers and that an increasing number of students have lost instructional time due to harsh disciplinary actions.

"As a result, this guidance is critically needed to ensure that all students have an equal opportunity to learn and grow in school," the guidance letter stated. "Additionally, fair and equitable discipline policies are an important component of creating an environment where all students feel safe and welcome."

The New York Times reports charges against children have increased drastically as "zero tolerance" policies have taken hold in schools, causing alarm for civil rights groups.

"The move by the Education and Justice departments comes after years of complaints from civil rights groups and others who say the policies are ineffective and take an unfair toll on minorities. The zero tolerance approach has been blamed for boosting the number of suspensions and expulsions and for equating minor infractions with criminal acts," an NPR article stated.

In remarks made during the school guidance rollout, Attorney General Eric Holder said, "Effective discipline is, and always will be, a necessity. But a routine school discipline infraction should land a student in a principal’s office – not in a police precinct." 

Do you believe "zero tolerance" policies are ineffective or detrimental? Do you think these policies should be eased? Leave a comment below or vote in our poll. 

This is not a scientific poll. It is for entertainment purposes only.
Brian January 10, 2014 at 04:25 PM
There's too much bullying in schools, so the zero tolerance policies are necessary. School administrations just need to be intelligent about how they interpret a kids' behavior to determine whether it's innocent play, or something they should discipline and correct the behavior.
JACQUE January 11, 2014 at 04:01 AM
How many times have you driven on school property with a pocket knife in your car or a gun? You have committed a felony! Zero tolerance laws should be called zero thought laws because they require no thought to apply. Two kids in Cobb County were charged under the zero tolerance laws just this year, one because he had a fishing knife in his car and the other because he had an emergency tool in his car containing a knife. Fortunately niether was prosecuted because we have a District Attorney who has a brain. These laws are very detrimental and there is no latitude to apply any common sense which is sorely needed. These cases are not one size fits all and niether should the law be.


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