Zero Tolerance: Doubtful Indeed Many schools around the country have been faced with violence and even actual deaths. Take the incident at Columbine, for example. Many schools for this very reason have proposed and in some cases even imposed a policy called, The Zero Tolerance Policy. The article, “Taking Zero Tolerance to the Limit” by Jesse Katz, is about the absolute ban of drugs and weapons in schools. It doesn’t work.
It doesn’t work because it punishes everyone for the problems of few, it’s too extreme and there is still no clear line between what is a drug and what is a weapon. First of all, the zero tolerance policy is very unfair because it punishes everyone for the problems of few. Even if you ” re the best student in the school and have never taken any drugs or used any weapons except for the butter knife, you still have to feel uncomfortable as if you really have used drugs or weapons. For example, in the article by Jesse Katz, when it talks about the girl who got M idol to school and shared it with another girl with the sole purpose of easing menstrual cramps. Kimberly, the girl who had gotten the drug along with Erica, the girl that received the drug got a ten-day suspension. The parents of Kimberly got the district later on with a federal lawsuit for racial discrimination because the school suspended Kimberly, who is black, for 80 more days because she had the drug.
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Another example from the article of this unfairness would be the seventh grader from West Virginia who shared a zinc cough drop with his friend. He also was suspended and I’m pretty sure that he didn’t mean to choke his friend to death. Another example would be the thirteen year-old girl who brought a bottle of Advil in her backpack and was detected by drug-sniffing dog. Things like these show the unfairness of something that doesn’t work. Secondly, in a few words, ” it’s just too extreme.” Not everybody in the schools is a murderer, a drug addict, or a rapist. If you look at this zero tolerance policy closely, you ” ll find out that the things that the schools are punishing for are just plain crazy.
Take this example (from the article by Jesse Katz): a five-year-old Virginia boy who got suspended for taking his mother’s pager on a kindergarten trip to the pumpkin patch. What real harm could the boy have done, he’s only five years old, he didn’t really know what he was doing. Also, taken from the article, the eleven-year-old boy from North Carolina. He got suspended for passing around a homegrown chili pepper. If schools start to ban chili because of an allergic child, they might as well ban all food and let kids starve.
Somebody is always allergic to something. Lastly, and most importantly, there is no clear line between what is a drug and what is a weapon. People just can’t distinguish what is a drug and what is a weapon. For example, the 17-year-old who got suspended for bringing an African American tribal knife to her class (taken from the article).
Or the thirteen year-old boy from Oregon who also got suspended for taking a drink of scope after lunch. Another example of this confusing situation in deciding what is a weapon and what isn’t would be, as Jesse Katz explained in her article, Shannon Costlett’s case.
She got suspended because she accidentally took her mom’s lunch bag. After she was done eating lunch she noticed the wooden handle of her mom’s steak knife sticking out of the bag. Since she knew the zero tolerance policy, she turned the knife in, but even in this case she still got suspended. At this rate if a beeper is a weapon or drug in schools, students would have to go naked to school, sit on the floor and listen for five or six hours in only one classroom, not eat lunch or breakfast and be expected to learn something. The battle for zero tolerance in schools will go on for a long time. One thing is clear to me, if I were to choose whether or not to have zero tolerance in schools; it would be pretty obvious what my answer would be.
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Just thinking of all the incidents that occurred in schools makes me sometimes doubt the education boards. Punishing kids when they do something is wrong is definitely not an option and rules should be enforced. In any case, when you start being unfair, extreme and unclear problems are bound to arise and then decisions will begin to be regretted.