I completely agree with Instapundit who says ABOUT FREAKING TIME with a link to this Washington Post story: More schools rethinking zero-tolerance discipline stand.
These dumb policies have led to suspensions and explusions of children for such offenses as bringing a toy gun to school. Or Advil. Or having a steak knife in a box in the back seat of their locked car in the parking lot. Or a camping utensil that included a knife – because that’s what camping requires (this kid was 6 years old).
What kind of cowardly moron suspends a 6-year-old for bringing a camping utensil to school? Show some judgment for crying out loud! Take it away for the day if you really must. But it takes a special kind of stupid to believe that a policy REQUIRING the suspension of a young child kid for that type of offense is a just policy, or in a more practical sense, that it will lead to anything good in the future at all, for the kid or the school.
The article notes that these policies have led to “high suspension rates, community pressure, legal action and research findings“. No shit – that’s pretty much what happens when you abuse your power against the taxpayers who pay your salaries by criminalizing what is essentially normal behavior. And the fact that it has taken these PhD’s and Masters Degree holders this long to figure that out? Think about that for a second.
The very idea of such a policy is a pretty clear abuse of power for a taxpayer-supported government body. What do the kids — even the ones who don’t get caught up in this meat grinder — learn from this entire experience? And for the kids who do get caught up in the meat grinder, they probably learn that authority figures are small-minded power freaks who have no wisdom or judgment to navigate through the gray areas of life. That’s just great. As always, kids learn more from what adults do than from what they say. So what has been the social cost of all of that? Were the advocates of these draconian policies interested in that question at all, or did they just charge ahead? I think I know the answer to that one.
So, where did this zero-tolerance mania come from, you might ask?
Zero-tolerance ideas became part of federal education law under the Gun-Free Schools Act of 1994, which mandates that those who bring firearms to school be expelled. Many states and school systems jumped in over the years, adopting automatic punishments for drug possession and behavioral offenses. It was a time of abiding concern about school safety, intensified by the mass shooting at Columbine High School in Colorado in 1999.
More broadly, it was a time of tough attitudes toward criminal sentencing, years when three-strikes laws were popular and political leaders had declared a war on drugs.
Note the level of insanity here. Applying the same punishments for firearms in school to Advil and steak knives. Treating schoolchildren like criminals, and schools like prisons.
Nice. These educators shouldn’t even be allowed to have Advil and steak knives, much less determine who else can have them.
Bottom line: you and I as taxpayers have been paying the inflated salaries and pensions of cowards who abuse their power and treat our children like sociopaths.
Keep this in mind the next time somebody from a teachers’ union, or a school superintendent, invokes the tired phrase to justify their latest stupid policy: “what about the children?”.
This comment by Instapundit Glenn Reynolds says it all: “Since this was obviously a dumb idea from the beginning, why are we allowing our kids to be taught by people who took two decades to grasp the obvious?”