Realities of Zero Tolerance Policies Essay

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If they face the full extent of the penalties, hopefully those students will find the positive aspects to their experience and help them focus on what in life matters most to them.

If I were in the situation of adjudicating their expulsion hearings, I would likely pose the same questions and present the same information as in the preceding paragraphs. I would make it clear, on the record that these students knew better, but brought the fake guns to school regardless. If I had the power to make the decision, I would expel those students. What does it look like if the students do not get expelled? It looks like all the concern for students and safety in schools, as well as issues of pervasive gun violence in American culture was all for show and insubstantial. It makes it look like zero tolerance policies are just as fake as the guns those students brought to school. I would not enjoy handing down such a severe punishment, but children and adolescents really need to learn lessons in accountability and consequences. Generations of young people in America lack an adequate sense of accountability and consequences, generally. Some youths need harsher lessons than others in order to make it clear that there are consequences for actions and choices that people have to live with. It is a part of the process of maturing and a part of adulthood. It is not usually pleasant; it is not usually so severe, but each person experiences a harsh, sharp reality of the consequences of their actions at least once in their lifetimes.

While giving out the punishment, I would also offer these students words of support and encouragement.
They are not necessarily bad kids or stupid kids; they are humans and they made a mistake. I would try to offer some insight regarding the best ways to look at mistakes, even if the students were angry or upset at me for being the person who officially expels them from school. Being expelled does not necessarily have to be a bad thing; it could be a wake up call or the moment that pushes a person into his/her full potential. There are not too many cons to this plan. People could be upset with me personally. The pros outweigh the cons. Other kids will clearly know not to bring guns to school or if they do, they will be expelled. The message is not even do not use guns; it is simply to not use guns at school, which is not unreasonable. The community sees that firearms at school are taken seriously and that the policies are not just for show. Hopefully as a result of their expulsion, parents and teachers will feel safer and have increased confidence in the school system, at least in this area. This is a decision whose impact goes far beyond just that of the students in question. This decision for expulsion should be quite the reality check for everyone.

References:

American Psychological Association. (2008). Are Zero Tolerance Policies Effective in the Schools? American Psychologist, 63(9), 852 -- 862.

Rice, S. (2009). Education for Toleration in an Era of Zero Tolerance School Policies: A Deweyan Analysis. Educational Studies, 45, 556 -- 571.

Teske, JD, S.C. (2011). A Study of Zero Tolerance Policies in Schools: A Multi-Integrated Systems Approach to Improve….....

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