Free Markets, Free People


0% Tolerance; 100% Nonsense

We’ve all heard the stories about students being suspended for bringing aspirin to school, etc., where administrators are tasked with enforcing a “zero tolerance” policy with respect to drugs, weapons, and the like. While being kicked out of school for a few days for bandying over-the-counter analgesics is bad enough, when kids who are otherwise good citizens are thrown into reform school you know things are really getting out of hand:

Zachary Christie is a six-year old student in Newark, Delaware who is facing 45 days in reform school because he brought his new Cub Scout eating utensil to school for lunch. The utensil includes a knife, and this violates the school’s brainlessly, robotically enforced zero-tolerance policy on “weapons on school property.”

I can sort of understand the school’s problem with Christie having a knife (although, if it isn’t a lock-blade, it’s use as a weapon is awfully questionable), but how on earth does that merit being sent to reform school? When I used to work with troubled kids in a alternative-education wilderness program (where most of the kids came to us through social services and/or the courts), they were allowed to have pocket knives, and these were the kids who were kicked out of every school they had ever attended. If they could be trusted with such a utensil, why is that a Cub Scout can’t have one?

If I were the kid’s parent, I would be looking to move as quickly as possible, because that sort of non-tolerance is simply intolerable.

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58 Responses to 0% Tolerance; 100% Nonsense

  • It’s asinine. When I was in grade school, one kid got his eye ruined by a spork of all things.

    ANYTHING CAN BE A WEAPON. Especially to dumb kids.

    School districts are more interested in CYA instead of ABC

  • In bible study one kid stabbed another real good with a pencil. The kid who did the stabbing was hyperactive. At the time, we were 11 or 12, and it was early ’70s.

    Other than that, bible study was lots of fun. We went to hang out with the girls there, actually.

  • How do you legally and fairly differentiate between a student who brings a knife to use for legitimate purposes and one who brings it with the intent for violence?

    Isn’t it possible that a troubled kid could bring a knife to use to cut his apple at lunch? Is he going to get a harsher punishment because you think he has the potential to be more violent than the quiet kid?

  • Does the same apply to plastic knives ?

    The Joker in Batman killed with a #2 pencil, are they banned too ?

    • I was thinking the same thing: does the cafeteria have plastic knives for the kids to use? Because those Cub Scout mess kit thingys are about the same level of sharpness/stabbiness as a plastic knife.

      Next thing you know, they’re going to require rocks to be laboratory tested for sharp points! Oh wait…

  • Have the administrators never noticed that pencils and pens have SHARP POINTS on them? Are they making sure that the wstudents have trimmed their fingerNAILS? Perhaps they do ot realize that a shoelace makes a good garotte. The water in toilets is deep enough to drown someone.

    I am shocked that the administrators run such a dangerous place, allowing such hazards to eist. Not to mention allowing students to join right wing paramilitary organizations.

  • Following the “logic” being given in these comments, we should be allowing knives since other objects are also sharp to some degree?

    Gosh, why do hunters even bother to carry knives when there’s all of these other great poking tools available?

  • If you want to argue that the punishment was too severe, then the commenters need to make THAT argument. But to argue that other objects can also cause some degree of harm is just nonsensical.

    Furthermore, once you decide that some knife carriers deserve less punishment than others (which is a valid point to argue), then you need some sort of criteria to determine who is the “bad” knife wielder and who is the “not-so-bad” wielder. But remember, even those with violent intent can claim they just wanted to cut their apple.

    • It’s not a nonsense argument to say that other just-as-pointy objects aren’t banned. The whole point of a “zero tolerance” policy is to have a rule which allows for no subjective judgment whatsoever. We are pointing out that if you’re going to eliminate all subjective judgment, you’re going down a very steep slippery slope toward wrapping children literally in bubble wrap to try to avoid all risk.

      I would argue that if there are sufficient checks and balances in a system, there is more danger in misapplication of an objective standard than in misinterpretation of a subjective standard. I, for one, WANT a principal to be able to make judgment calls like “is that kid really bringing a knife to cut his apple, or is he being a smart@$$ and he’s gonna turn around and use it to bully that nerdy kid out of his lunch money?” By defending a zero tolerance policy, you are asserting that principals are, by and large, unqualified to make that kind of judgment call. If so, they should be fired and replaced with people who have some brains and are capable of taking on the level of responsibility associated with running a school.

      • going down a very steep slippery slope toward wrapping children literally in bubble wrap to try to avoid all risk

        banning knives has not started anything slippery at all

        By defending a zero tolerance policy, you are asserting that principals are, by and large, unqualified to make that kind of judgment call.

        I have endured a few lawsuits in which a parent claimed that their child was unfairly singled out while other children “did the same thing.” Nationwide there has been a measurable trend in which black children and poor children have been punished more severely than middle-class white children.

        While YOU may want a principal to make the subjective determination about who is really violent and who is not, I doubt you want to see YOUR taxes going to fight the lawsuits.

        I will argue forcefully that sending this particular child to a reform school for an entire grading period is ridiculous. No one should be sent that long for a single non-violent act.

        However, it is also ridiculous to compare a plastic knife to a steel blade. Furthermore, what parent/scout master gives a kid a knife and doesn’t tell him that it’s not allowed in school? It’s not like it’s a secret.

        • “banning knives has not started anything slippery at all”

          I don’t recall a ban specifically on knives, but there is one on weapons. The whole point is, what is a weapon? A knife certainly can be, though it is clear that in this case it is not, and this punishment is a knee-jerk reaction. The whole situation has been very poorly handled by school administrators. If they handled this wisely, they would talk to the parents, the teacher, classmates, and of course, the student who brought in the scout utensils. Then, they would confer with the parents and come up with an appropriate punishment, if one were needed.

          This stupid no-tolerance rule basically is a way for teachers to avoid any blame, simply saying they are following the rules. Instead, they should be looking to build with responsibility, by ensuring that the punishment fits the crime. No one in their right mind can justify 45 days in reform school for this unless they can justify the punishment with some proof of his intent. This six year old will gain nothing from having to go to reform school; if anything, I’d be afraid that negatively reinforcing his honest mistake at best will teach him nothing and at worst will build a rebellious personality that is a needless result.

          The best thing for this child is to sit down with him, tell him why there is concern over the utensil, and return him to his classes so he does not suffer from lost class time or pointless punishments.

          • is a way for teachers to avoid any blame

            Policy has NOTHING to do with teachers avoiding blame. All handbook policies are put through the elected school board during public meetings.

            Why do you think “no tolerance” policies started becoming popular? It’s because school districts all over the country were losing lawsuits because they were treating kids inconsistently and differently.

          • “It’s because school districts all over the country were losing lawsuits because they were treating kids inconsistently and differently.”

            I’ll ask you two questions. First, do you think this kid had malicious intent, or it was an honest mistake? And don’t give me the “how would I know” answer; decisions have to made on a daily basis, often with a piece of info missing, as I do recall that people are innocent until proven guilty.

            Secondly, exactly how is this going to eliminate the possibility of lawsuits? A case like this is asking for one. As I stated, parents need to be involved in the process. If they are involved, parents have no reason to bring about lawsuits. As it is, this gives these parents more than enough justification to sue their school district, or at least to move to another school district to keep their child out of reform school.

            I am all for following the rules and maintaining order, but we cannot blindly follow them, assuming they are always right. Cases like this should force administrators to reevaluate the standards they have set and improve on them so that the punishment fits the crime, rather than a one-size fits all solution that doesn’t address the issue.

        • banning knives has not started anything slippery at all

          There are knives, and then there are knives.

          The problem is that no distinction is made between an obvious utensil like a butter knife (or the mess-kit knife this kid had) and an actual weapon like a hunting knife.

          I might grant you that a steak knife can be used as a weapon, but a butter knife? Get real.

        • No, I don’t want to see my tax dollars wasted on stupid lawsuits by people whose precious little snowflake was given only 11 M&Ms when everybody else got 12. That’s why I support tort reform. There’s no need to counter the idiocy of our legal system with the idiocy of our school system and pretend that makes all this idiocy OK.

          • There’s no need to counter the idiocy of our legal system

            Of course there is. School systems must function within the legal system. Their policies will reflect the reality of the judicial decisions made against them.

          • Dude, can you read the whole sentence? You can’t counter idiocy with idiocy. Here, I’ll make it shorter for you:

            2 idiots in a sack =/= Albert Einstein in a sack

            2 idiotic systems =/= 1 really good working system

  • In our efforts to stop bad things happening, our efforts focus increasingly on what amounts to prior restraint: “You can’t do X because it might hurt somebody!”

    Motorcycle helmets: “You must ride with a helmet because you MIGHT have an accident and the helmet MIGHT save your life!”

    Gun control: “You can’t have (insert firearm here) because you MIGHT go crazy and shoot people!”

    Drunk driving: “You can’t drink before you drive because you MIGHT lose control of your car and hurt somebody!”

    Traditionally, our legal system has focused on punishing people who have committed a crime. Now, in our efforts to have a completely safe, sterile, perfect society, we’re in effect punishing people because they MIGHT do something bad.

    Where will it end?

    • So is it wrong to ban a child from bringing a handgun to school? Afterall, he might be going to the shooting range right after school.

      • You are attacking arguments that no one is making. You’re an educator, right? You should know better than to use a straw man.

  • This is a coincidence.

    Soliciting opinions. What would you say about 7 year old saying in anger to a kid harassing him “I’m going to get a knife and stab you.” This was an emotional blurt out against a kid that had been riding him hard since the start of the school year. In reality, the 7 year old would have trouble bringing himself to even punch the other kid and if you brought an actual non-kitchen knife into the room, he’d probably run away.

    • This was an emotional blurt out

      It should be treated as a threat.

      What would you do if you looked at me in a restaurant and made a joke about me being bald and I responded that I was going to get a knife to stab you? Would you consider calling the police?

      In reality, the 7 year old would have trouble bringing himself to even punch the other kid

      Really? You can tell a frustrated child is not going to lash out in anger just by looking at him for a few seconds?

      • Never said the child wasn’t absolutely not going to lash out. I said he wasn’t going to do it with a knife.

        If he’d just beaten up the kid with his hands, how would you feel? Better, worse or same as the threat?

        • If he’d just beaten up the kid with his hands, how would you feel?

          The act of violence is worse than the threat of violence.

          I just find it interesting that you can figure out who is capable of stabbing someone just by looking at his picture.

          • Dude, maybe you haven’t been around schools lately, but most kids who make threats are brought bodily to the office, where they’re around people who know them by more than sight; the disciplinary decision’s not made by looking at their picture.

          • I didn’t describe my length of exposure to the child or the teacher’s length of exposure, so I don’t know why you keep going back to a ‘few seconds’.

            Other than saying the act of violence is worse, how much time off would you give to a threat of violence with a knife from a child vs. giving the kid a black eye instead?

      • you compare the statements of a child with those of an adult? You really don’t believe that children should not be treated as adults and hauled away in handcuffs or suspended for making a paper gun? Children are not stupid, just ignorant. It’s the adults who make those idiotic rules who are stupid. You have no business dealing with children.

  • then you need some sort of criteria to determine who is the “bad” knife wielder and who is the “not-so-bad” wielder. But remember, even those with violent intent can claim they just wanted to cut their apple.

    The problem in so many of these “zero tolerence” cases is that no one is wielding the pocket knife in any manner which indicates violent intent. The attempt to remove determination of whether there is any criminal (violent) intent from the process is what results in punishment which is out of proportion, or even unnecessary.

    And the point of the posters is that those with violent intent have available to them many endorsed items which can be misused for violence.

  • no one is wielding the pocket knife in any manner which indicates violent intent

    So no one should stop a child from carrying a knife around school until after he waves it around a stabs someone in the locker bay?

    And the point of the posters is that those with violent intent have available to them many endorsed items which can be misused for violence.

    Gosh, has there been a surge in pencil-wielding attacks that I missed in the news? Should the cops start frisking gang-members for concealed pencils? Really? You want to compare a pencil as a potential weapon to a steel bladed knife? Really??

  • How many school fights have any of you broken up over the years? I break up at least one or two per month just by myself (there are other fights where I’m not present), and I’ve been teaching in a low-income school for 15 years.

    How many have involved a non-traditional weapon? ZERO.
    How many have involved a concealed knife? THREE.
    How many knives have we confiscated because another student squealed? more than a DOZEN.

    Any guesses why a student might pull a knife, but no one ever pulls a pencil?

  • Gosh, you’ve gone to the extent of making sure we understand the kids eating utensil utility knife is a steel bladed knife JW, why don’t you go to the next level and add the adjectives: Automatic and Assault.

    “Automatic steel bladed assault knife”

    so we understand what a tremendous threat the device was in this kid’s hands, even if he only intended to use it for goodness and niceness. Did you see the pictures of this kid? Christ the eating kit is as big as he is.

    If a kid wants to bring a knife to school to take a stab at his arch enemy he’s not going to be any more stupid about it than he would be if there was NO policy. He’s going to keep it hidden and not flash it around by using it to eat his lunch.

    Kids KNOW it’s wrong to stab someone, with ANYTHING. That’s why we don’t have rules against pencils.

    • gone to the extent of making sure we understand the kids eating utensil utility knife is a steel bladed knife

      Because you’re still trying to compare it to a pencil. Do you really not see a substantial difference between a pencil and a knife? Or a plastic knife and a steel-bladed knife?

      he only intended to use it for goodness and niceness

      So you don’t trust school personnel to teach our children without bias and indoctrination, but you trust them to accurately and consistently divine the emotional intent of every kid who brings a knife to school?

      he’s not going to be any more stupid about it

      I don’t think you’ve been around thousands of teenagers. They’re very stupid about many things, which is why they usually get caught.

      He’s going to keep it hidden and not flash it around by using it to eat his lunch.

      Can you really not imagine a kid trying to intimidate another kid during lunch by handling a knife in a threatening manner when the monitors aren’t looking? “But I was just cutting my apple!”

      Frankly, you’re just wrong. Children would rather pose and intimidate than just jump someone. It’s not like the prison movies where they shank him from behind in the courtyard.

      Did you see the pictures of this kid?

      And do we have any idea about this kid’s behavior throughout the school year? Is he rambuncious? Does he horseplay a lot? The school is not allowed to release this type of information. We are only going to get behavioral information from the parents, and we know they never try falsely to paint little Johnnie as an angel.

      That’s why we don’t have rules against pencils.

      Oh, THAT’S why. I kinda thought it might have something to do with a pencil not really being very dangerous compared to a knife. But again, I might just be missing all those emergency room statistics of pencil accidents and stabbings all across the country.

      • Do you really not see a substantial difference between a pencil and a knife? Or a plastic knife and a steel-bladed knife?

        Do you really not see a substantial difference between a butter knife (no matter its composition) and a knife that can be used as a weapon?

  • Yeah, I’ll take a guess as to why they’re not using pencils.
    They’re not mad and threatened enough to realize it’s a weapon.
    Better get on the policy though, it’s happening out there….
    ..tells me there MUST be policies adopted to protect our kids!

    http://www.democraticunderground.com/discuss/duboard.php?az=view_all&address=170×11159

    http://www.valleycentral.com/news/news_story.aspx?id=201342

    http://www.wral.com/news/local/story/156825/

    http://www.journalstar.com/news/local/article_fb5d1b82-c172-53ad-99fb-7babc26a1ccc.html

    http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1G1-96625723.html

    • Looker, I’m hoping you’re just trying to be funny, because if you’re really trying to compare the risk of pencils to knives, then you’re really an idiot.

  • Let me ask you a question JW –

    when these kids who DID stab other kids actually stabbed them, with whatever it was, do you suppose the school had to (oh my god!) make some decisions about what to do with the stabber even though there was no freaking zero tolerance policy about pencils to help them make the decisions about what to do?

    They had to – oh no! decide what kind of kid was the stabber, was it actually an accident, was it intentional? Is he really a danger? Has he been a danger?
    They had to make judgment calls, because they don’t HAVE zero tolerance policies against pencils, do they. So if someone stabs someone with a pencil, they have to think about how to handle it.

    Oh my! how can the school system survive the potential lawsuits with no pencil policy in place!

    Knives…don’t for a second believe I’m in favor of kids carrying knives to school. It wasn’t a good idea when I was a kid 40 odd years ago (as I recall I lost at least one pocket knife to the junk drawer wherein all the crap we shouldn’t bring to school would end up) and I wouldn’t allow my kid to do so now (I don’t worry about it, my last of three graduated 2 years ago).
    However, if I send my kid to school with a butter knife, I don’t expect to find him sentenced to alternate education and treated as if he was just west of being Genghis Khan (well, yes, I do, because of how stupid it’s gotten).

    I expect the school officials to employee the brains that they allegedly were equipped with when we hired their bodies and use good judgment.
    Oh, I understand the parents of the “not my Johnny, not my Susie” brigade, I saw enough cases where Johnny & Susie escaped the ‘zero tolerance’ policy rules because they were cheerleaders, sports players, national merit kids. The zero tolerance policies I’ve seen locally resulted in the kids who’s parents couldn’t hire a good lawyer getting screwed and the kids who could getting off, despite the ‘policy’

  • http://www.fbi.gov/ucr/schoolviolence/2007/schoolviolence.pdf

    over the 5-year study period, the use of knives/cutting instruments was over three times more prevalent than the use of a gun

    The largest group of arrestees about whom the age was known (41.8 percent) was 13 to 15 year olds. Arrestees who were 16 to 18 years old accounted for 32.7 percent;

    • Nobody’s denying that kids have– let’s call them “negative incidents”– with knives, guns, what have you. The problem is that you seem unable to recognize that the KID had an incident, not the KNIFE had an incident. A stabbing with a pencil is a problem WITH THE KID not with the pencil. So why is a stabbing with a knife a problem with the knife? Why is a stabbing with a butter knife qualitatively different from a stabbing with a pencil, and “obviously” requires a zero tolerance policy, while a stabbing with a pencil or a pointy stick does not?

      If lawsuits by the perpetrator’s parents are the big risk, why would principals need to have their authority taken away from them in the case of unwielded knives but not in the case of wielded pencils?

      I think I know the answer, so I’ll tell you what I think it is. It’s that sharp knives are icky icky evil weapons that can never have any positive uses, and better to ban their nonviolent butter cousins as well than to risk having a person come into contact with an icky icky knife. Because knives burn people wherever they touch; they just melt your flesh away and cause panic to rush through your brain. Right? Am I far off the mark?

  • those school officials need to be shot in the head. they’re much more dangerous to our fellow americans than that child or his knife will ever be.

    • Because you won’t get the satisfaction of response that you’re looking for, let me clue you in: You’re type of troll is useless around here. If you care to scroll the various comment section there is one phrase you won’t find — “Don’t feed the trolls.” That’s because you’re way out of your league here. Nobody here needs to be told the obvious, and if they decide to go after you, well … don’t think that your bag of tricks will suffice.

      In shorter parlance, f*** off.

  • 0 tolerance is always the equivalent of 0 thinking. Policies that mandate certain punishments without taking into account the nature of an act are always a bad idea. In this case, I’d put as much political pressure on the school board as possible, and if I were the parent, I’d consider running for school board membership and gather a lot of people to protest this kind of absurd decision.

    • This is very difficult for me. I don’t want to, but I do have to … Aaaarrrgghhh!

      I agree with Erb.

      Except for this bit:

      Policies that mandate certain punishments without taking into account the nature of an act are always a bad idea.

      One can not argue against rigidity of thought with more rigidity and absolutes. Unfortunately, I have a feeling that Erb is trying to play a long game here. I expect to be quoted out of context in the next Polanski thread, but (for now) the Erbster seems to be on the side of the angels.

    • I am pretty sure that the nature of the act is taken into consideration when punishments are set, which is why the death penalty is given for murder but not for jaywalking, and why aggravated assault carries a stiffer penalty than simple assault.

  • The kid was SIX years old, not SIXTEEN. And it was a Cub Scout eating utensil set.

    That to me says you have to use your brain and cut some slack. Maybe a warning first, you know?

    If we are going to have zero tolerance policies, then we should have robot administrators paid very low wages – no need to pay 100K for someone who can avoid using their judgement.

    • I have a six year old. To give this kind of punishment to a six year old for this really pisses me off. I can imagine that happening to my son, and though I’m not the kind of parent who intervenes and becomes a pain in the arse to teachers, this kind of thing would have me going for the juggler.

  • Harun has truth. Any fool can enforce a zero tolerance rule. And many do. There is a reason for the lack of respect ‘educators’ receive, and this is an example.

  • Just to put a fine point on it (NPI), I just spent the past weekend on a Cub Scout camping trip with my first grader. There are plenty of reasons not to trust such a group the responsibilities of adults, or even young adults, but they are well equipped to understand “sharp things are dangerous”.

    With respect to the subject at hand, there is zero chance that anyone is going to send my kid to reform school because he packed a utility instrument that he earned to take with him to school. I can understand that schools aren’t comfortable with the idea, and that some reasonable punishment may be in order. But the sentence passed in this case would have to come after going through my bloody corpse first. IOW, there is not a chance in fricking hell that my boy will be locked up for even a few hours for making a “mistake” like this kid did.

  • The purpose of silly rules like that is not to protect the students, but to protect the administrators. Making decisions is dangerous.

  • And back up the truck for a sec.
    Let’s talk about turning a 6 year old into what the school system effectively considers a criminal. This will follow him for the next 12 years.

    Let’s all pretend this isn’t going into the much joked about ‘permanent record’.

    And oh sure, we can’t release Johnny’s name to the public, my god! Well, except for all the the kids in Johnnies class who know in a vague 6 year old way, why he’s not here today, or for the next 45 days.

    And of course they’re going to go home, possibly scared witless if they don’t know why, at 6 freaking years old, and tell mom and dad Evil Knifewielding Johnny, was carted off to ‘alternate education’, he bought a KNIFE to school. “Oh, dear, and we thought he was such a nice little boy!”

    And then the parents of the other kids, some of whom are going to respond like the posters here and go “WTF! that’s stupid!” and some of whom are going to stop little Billy and little Susie from associating with little Johnny because they don’t have the details of WHY Johnny was taken away, because, well, we can’t discuss THAT. We just sort of know he brought a knife to school (Queue images of K-Bar hunting kinves! Samurai Swords!…why not, this ‘steel knife’ could have been any one of those, right, but we can’t discuss the details with the other parents, technically…)

    And let’s look at the ‘answer’ too, the ‘solution’ to the ‘problem’.

    Someone pulled a rule on a 6 year old with an eating kit and suspended him and sent him off to re-education camp! What do you TEACH a 6 year old for 45 days in re-education camp when his CRIME is bringing an eating kit to school! Innocent kid, innocent knife, and parents who don’t frisk him every day to see if he took a butter knife to school.

    Gosh I LOVE this brave new world!

    Wacky Hermit said what I was thinking, pre-empt the ‘crime’ by making carrying certain possible icky things, and even their less icky cousins, a crime. Simple. Turn a 6 year old kid, who didn’t DO anything into a knife wielding psycho who was going to stab someone with his Cub Scout eating kit in the locker bay. Pretend it’s the same as a 14 year old doing it, pretend it will stop future actual incidents, snuggle up safe in the zero tolerance blanket of security and tell yourself that “Gun Free Zone” will stop shootings, that “Zero Tolerance policy” will stop violence.

    Scratch your head a little once in a while when they don’t and say “huh, we need stricter policies!”.

    Convince yourself that we can legislate violence, evil, and harm out of existence, if only we have a couple more rules and laws in place.

    And this kid, well…he shouldn’t have brought that semi automatic steel bladed folding eating utensil assault knife to school, damn criminal.
    He should have known better!

  • JWGSo is it wrong to ban a child from bringing a handgun to school? Afterall, he might be going to the shooting range right after school.

    Or, in more rural parts of the country, he might be planning to go deer hunting after school.

    But that’s beside the point.

    Which sort of country do you want to live in:

    — One where people are assumed guilty until proved innocent and may have their liberties curtailed by some bureaucrat because of what they MIGHT do, or;

    — One where people are assumed innocent until proved guilty and are at liberty to do pretty much what they please until they are convicted by a jury of their fellow citizens of having harmed (or planned to harm) somebody else?

    I have an 8″ chef’s knife on the bar in my pantry. Shall the police take it away and lock me away because I MIGHT stab somebody with it? I have car keys in my pocket. Shall the police confiscate them and lock me away because I MIGHT get a load on after work and run somebody down?

    As I wrote before, where does this sort of thing end?

    JWGSchool systems must function within the legal system. Their policies will reflect the reality of the judicial decisions made against them.

    I agree. The problem is that the schools, faced with the threat of often frivolous or outright stupid lawsuits, respond in a predictable manner: by doing everything they can to minimize their exposure. Teachers and administrators become bureaucrats, more interested in protecting their jobs and pensions than educating the children placed in their charge. Schools become a cross between a minimum security prison and a day care center. “Zero tolerance” works well for such a system as it takes the responsibility and ACCOUNTABILITY away from the teacher. However, “I was only following orders” really isn’t a phrase I want bandied about in our schools.

    IMO, “zero tolerance” winds up doing much more harm than good for several reasons:

    1. It criminalizes foolishness, thoughtlessness, and stupidity because there is no effort made to determine motive or demonstrate mens rea.

    2. It actually prevents the effective punishment of REAL wrongdoers because, in understandable efforts not to lower the boom on stupid kids who merely make a mistake, punishments are toned down so that real bad behavior gets a slap on the wrist. We’re grousing about this kid getting 45 days in reform school. If, however, he was a real villain who planned or actually did stab another kid, this would be a laughable punishment.

    3. As I wrote above, it takes responsibility and accountability away from the school staff.

    4. It undermines the rule of law.

    5. It undermines parental authority. When I was a kid, had I taken a knife to school, my parents would have been my chief worry. In this case, it appears that the parents are nothing more than outraged bystanders.

    Speaking of parents…

    MichaelW[T]he sentence passed in this case would have to come after going through my bloody corpse first. IOW, there is not a chance in fricking hell that my boy will be locked up for even a few hours for making a “mistake” like this kid did.

    I absolutely share your opinion, and my brother (who, unlike me, actually has a child) said much the same thing. But what WOULD you do? I like to think that I would strongly resist the police taking my (hypothetical) child away. But that’s a scenario fraught with very… unpleasant… possibilities.

  • “Why do you think “no tolerance” policies started becoming popular? It’s because school districts all over the country were losing lawsuits because…”

    Tort reform will reduce the cost of health care, and allow us to remove these crasy “zero tolerance” laws.

    Campaign for Tort Reform Now!!!

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