School Discipline

Should zero-tolerance policies be revised?


Two decades after the nation's schools began adopting zero-tolerance discipline policies to curb violence, drug use and gun threats, reform efforts are underway. New data on high rates of suspensions and expulsions are leading school officials to question whether zero-tolerance policies are being overused, especially when applied to minor infractions. Critics say get-tough discipline has disproportionately targeted minority and disabled students and created a “school-to-prison-pipeline.” Encouraged by the Obama administration, many school districts are trying new approaches, such as behavior counseling. Advocates of zero tolerance acknowledge that some school districts have been overzealous but say schools are safer today largely because of strict discipline policies. Schools also are grappling with whether hiring armed security officers improves school safety or encourages higher student arrest rates. Meanwhile, ...

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