Zero Tolerance policy strains relationship between educators and students
April 17, 2012 • Bear Facts, Staff View
Filed under Viewpoint
There is no doubt that a school has a responsibility to enforce its rules to maintain a peaceful learning environment for all students, however, schools that implement a “zero tolerance” policy are doing more harm than good for their student body.
Zero tolerance policies negatively affect the relationship between educators and juveniles and administrators should rethink their logic behind the policies.
Bryan Stortz, Dean, feels zero tolerance is beneficial because students have a clear cut idea of the consequences students receive for their actions.
“The benefits of zero tolerance are that the students and administration are taking a clear stance on an issue, its either right or wrong,” Stortz said.
According to a study performed by the American Psychological Assocation (APA), school administrators implement zero tolerance policies for a variety of reasons, one possibility being that if students are suspended or expelled, then they are not present in the classroom and it will create a more conducive learning environment for other students. However, according to the study, schools that report higher rates of suspension and expulsion, in turn, also have less satisfactory rates from the school climate.
The policies create a strain between child and educator. It is difficult to argue that zero tolerance will create a more positive learning environment when it is associated with suspensions and expulsions due to negative outcomes.
Schools would much rather just drop the student from their list of problems, rather than guide the youth on the right path. The main duty of schools to shape children and teens into responsible adults. The mere act of suspending students make the child feel neglected, further pushing them down the wrong path.
However, Stortz feels that LZHS’s zero tolerance policy helps students realize that their actions not only affect the present, but their futures as well.
“I believe that you have to take everything into consideration with young people and their decisions. The consequences need to hit home the idea that they might be headed down a road toward life consequences, not only small consequences here at school,” Stortz said. “I also believe that [zero tolerance] policies need to find a balance. Built into our policy is an opportunity to earn a second chance, such as a drug and alcohol program that can shorten your punishment.”
Despite LZHS’s effort to give students a second chance, students still receive suspensions and will become discouraged from trying to earn that second chance due to the harsh punishment.
Current zero tolerance policies are ineffective and create a strained relationship between educators and their students. Administrators should rethink their policies and create one that guides children to make the right decisions rather than just dropping the student from their list of problems.