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Reply #73: Zero tolerance policies are problematic, [View All]

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DemBones DemBones Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Oct-28-03 06:10 PM
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73. Zero tolerance policies are problematic,

to be sure, but they are meant to hold all violators of the policy to the same standard and that's a good thing. If this case involved a mediocre student who'd had numerous disciplinary referrals, it wouldn't have made the newspaper. But should that kid (a "bad" kid, a "discipline problem") be punished more harshly for expressing his/her thoughts? Assuming similar content of the expressions of thought, why should the school be more lenient with the never-been-in-trouble honor student? An honor student should be better able to understand the policy, if grades reflect any ability to think in a reasonable manner.

Kids get pigeonholed in school as good students/ bad students, smart/average/dumb, well-behaved/ troublemakers, and a lot of teachers do little to challenge the labels and preconceptions that get attached to kids. I know you've seen this, Prodigal, just as dsc and I, and anyone else who's taught, has. Kids are not as simple as the labels suggest, and they're awfully limited by those labels. The "dumb troublemakers" need to have chances to be smart and well-behaved while the smart and well-behaved need to be allowed to screw up academically and in behavior.

If this school is typical, I'm afraid that the school psychologist would have taken the popular view of this girl as good student/ smart / well-behaved to mean "No danger." Then what? She's not punished? She's punished less than the rules say? Is that fair?

The school isn't really policing anyone's thoughts; they're dealing with thoughts that have been expressed on paper, or in speech, when those expressions of thought suggest that the student could be a threat to the safety of others. People have to learn how to appropriately express their thoughts.
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