Zero Tolerance for School Violence

Is mandatory punishment in schools unfair?


Aseries of schoolyard mass killings in recent years has prompted school officials and lawmakers to impose mandatory punishments for a multitude of misbehaviors, many of them seemingly minor. Proponents credit tough disciplinary policies with driving school crime rates down. But critics question their effectiveness and worry about the impact the policies are having on individual rights. And civil rights advocates say the policies are being used to kick out minority, disabled and academically challenged students who might drag down standardized test scores. But the latest school violence -- the shooting of a Michigan first-grader on Feb. 29 by another 6-year-old -- left little doubt that zero-tolerance policies will remain in force.

First-grader Timiere Crosby, here with his mother, was expelled for a month this year for ...

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