Zero tolerance policies are an issue widely debated today, it seems like neither side is breaking away from the pack. Zero tolerance policies institute no case-by-case evaluations, but they stipulate that there is only one final solution for any number of problems. The zero tolerance policies were instituted to eliminate any discretion between cases. They were also put in place to scare students into obeying the rules before they break them.
These policies have had much success, while they have also created several incidents that could have been avoided using other methods of punishment. There are many people who will argue for and against the zero tolerance policies. There are some will speak of the value they have, yet not support them for the backlashes they have caused. Zero tolerance policies and as defined by schools do not allow for any negotiation when it comes to carrying weapons on school campus.
These zero tolerance policies and the lack of trust for the students lead some to believe that our next generation will become victim to scrutiny that is not deserved.
Zero tolerance policies in regards to weapons have been instituted in order to eliminate interpretation of what a weapon is. The reason zero tolerance policies have been implemented for weapons is due to the multiple widely publicized incidents where students, who have weapons, have wounded or killed others on campus, or school related events. These policies have come about to prevent crime in schools, raise test scores, and also they have been implemented so that the school district may receive federal grants they otherwise would not have received without these policies. School districts may also use these zero tolerance policies against weapons, to re-segregate schools by expelling students who commit only minor infractions.
Being safe at school is a concern that many school districts face. These districts have tried many different policies in order to eliminate weapons and promote safety at school. Students who write threatening letters or e-mails are subject to the same zero tolerance policies as a kid who brings a loaded handgun to school. Many good resolutions have come from the policies, students are now safer, and crime in schools is lower than it was just a few years ago.
Proponents of zero tolerance policies for weapons believe that these policies have saved many lives, and that any backlashes that may have occurred are worth the lives of those saved. Some will agree with the effectiveness of these policies yet they are horrified by these same backlashes. Several students have been expelled for carrying plastic knives in their lunches that are for cutting fruit. There have been incidents where students have also been expelled for making guns with their hands and playing cops and robbers during physical education. Justifying the punishment of the students who have not, and do not intend to commit an active violence is something the schools passed on to the judicial system. There are also many who believe the zero tolerance policies are inconsistent with our Constitution, and they have no place in our schools. The same people who are against these zero tolerance policies rely on the fact that schools are already one of the most secure places that children can be, and that these zero tolerance policies are an infringement on teenager's rights. The 106th congress stated in the American Bar Associations report on zero tolerance policies in schools. "Ã¢ÂÂ¦While it is important to carefully review the circumstances surrounding these horrifying incidents so that we may learn from them, we must also be cautious about inappropriately creating a cloud of fear over every student in every classroom across the country. In the case of youth violence, it is important to note that, statistically speaking; schools are among the safest places for children to be." Zero tolerance policies are in effect creating a mandatory minimum for any given punishment which the American Bar Association believes is unconstitutional.
Low test scores are another reason that zero tolerance policies are now in effect. Some school districts believe that the groups which will be affected by the zero tolerance policies on weapons contain students who are frequently truant. Attendance, these school districts believe, has an adverse effect on testing scores. Low test scores in any school district have many repercussions on national, state and local levels. Parents who are looking for a good education for their children are less likely to move into the school district where test scores are low; affecting how much tax a school district collects. Funding on a national and state level is affected by how well a school district performs on standardized testing.
Proponents of zero tolerance policies believe that students who are frequently truant, and do possess weapons on school campus should be expelled. These same proponents also agree that test scores will increase when violent students are removed from classrooms where nonviolent students learn. Those who are against these weapons policies believe that there is no reason for student to be expelled for carrying weapons just to increase the tax base for the school district and any funding associated with high test scores. "In 1994, to bolster school safety and ensure orderly learning environments, Congress passed the Gun Free School Act which requires states that receive federal funds to mandate expulsion from school for at least one year for any student who brings a weapon to school." The same people who are against these zero tolerance weapons policies believe that discriminating students who are frequently truant by associating them with violent students is unfair, and they think it shows how desperate school districts must be for more money. There's another group that agrees with parts of both sides. This third group agrees that high test scores are important, but they do not agree that students should be discriminated against based on their attendance.
Zero tolerance policies for weapons may also be used to segregate schools. Students who only commit minor infractions can now be expelled by the administration. These same students may not be liked and by a member of the administration, and can now be expelled if the member of the administration who does not like them can find even a minor reason to expel them. Those who are against the zero tolerance policies believe that personal relationships between students and the administration should not be a factor in the way a students discipline is handed out. These policies they believe should not be used to settle personal differences between school officials and students. While there are others that believe any student who carries weapons to school, regardless of size should be expelled, and the personal relationships between students and the administration have nothing to do with the expulsion. The yet there is third group who believes that students that have poor relationships with their teachers are more likely to be violent students, yet they believe that no student should be expelled based on that personal relationship. Those who are against the zero tolerance policies believe that personal relationships between students and the administration should not be a factor in the way a students discipline is handed out. These policies they believe are just another way that personal vendettas can be handled. While there are others that believe any student who carries weapons to school, regardless of size should be expelled, and the personal relationships between students and the administration have nothing to do with the expulsion.
In conclusion, zero tolerance policies have benefits and repercautions. There are some who are for these policies that think that the benefits reaped are worth any incidents that may be caused by them. Others think that the backlashes they cause outweigh the benefits, and yet another group is inconclusive as to the effectiveness of them. These policies are still in place, and it is now the job of those who wish to do away with them to step up and take action against them if they are to be removed.