The first story in True about “zero tolerance” appeared in June, 1995, and I started railing about the concept soon after. It took more than a decade before I starting noticing other columnists editorializing against ZT.
I’m surprised it took that long, since the cases are so ridiculous — and so sustained, rather than an aberrant “here and there” sort of thing.
Well, the pressure is starting to build. It’s not just the Savana Redding school-strip-search case, which should be decided by the U.S. Supreme Court any day now, but case after case after case after case.
The Legislative Fix
One state has had enough of it. A state that gets more than its share of story write-ups in True: Florida.
Gov. Charlie Crist went to a high school in Jacksonville, Fla., to sign Senate Bill 1540, which requires school boards to revise their zero tolerance policies to have …well… a bit of common sense. Students can’t be expelled or referred to the police for “petty acts of misconduct,” but rather, schools have to show that any student who is expelled or sent through the law enforcement gauntlet “pose a serious threat to school safety.”
In other words, school officials now have to do what they’re paid to do: deal with minor infractions of the rules themselves. What a concept.
“It doesn’t punish those who should not be punished,” Crist said.
I’ve long called for schools to punish actual bad behavior, like having real guns and drugs in schools. Yet all over the country, kids are being expelled for drawing pictures of guns (nevermind that there are pictures in their textbooks of guns) or sharing candy (“facsimile drugs!!” — yeah, right).
The Florida bill had no opposition in the House or Senate, which only goes to show just how stupid ZT is when it’s examined with an open mind. Congratulations to “Flor-i-duh” for getting it right. May the rest of the states quickly follow.
True’s first ZT story is here.
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