What Are The Arguments Against Zero Tolerance

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In 1994, the United States Congress passed the Gun-Free Schools Act. This act mandated that if any student were to be found with a fire-arm in their possession on campus, their school was then required to give them an at least one-year expulsion. Support for this act significantly strengthened after the Columbine School Shooting in 1999, and thus zero tolerance policies as we know them began (Glanzer). Since the initial act in 1994, school policies have changed greatly. Now, all schools across the United States exhibit zero tolerance to most all negative behaviors – doling out serious punishments for not only the possession of fire-arms, but anything resembling any type of weapon, including a miniature gun on a Lego toy, any kind of drug, including ibuprofen, and even mere disobedience towards authority.…show more content…
One would think that having an automatic punishment for breaking the rules would mean that there would be next to no discrimination in discipline. That isn’t the case. Zero tolerance policies actually have worse effects on students of color, low income students, and special education students in comparison to others. Some will argue for zero tolerance policies, saying it prepares you for the real world (Whitehead). These people ignore that while the real world can be a very corrupt place, it is also a place of democracy and equal opportunity, two things that are very limited in schools with zero tolerance policies. Zero tolerance policies don’t allow for differentiating between students, which is arguably one of its major problems (Saenz). By responding to every behavioral problem the same, the potential reasoning behind those misbehaving is continuously ignored. “We end up punishing honor students to send a message to bad kids. But the data indicate that the bad kids are not getting the message.” — Professor Russell Skiba
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