On zero-tolerance policies

Nat Hentoff writes a good piece about public government schools and their “zero-tolerance” policies.

Policies. All about freeing the administration from thinking. It’s really just lawsuit protection and CYA. It’s bad policy. One that goes overboard. Hentoff tells of Andrew Mikel who, because of a spitwad, is being charged with violent criminal conduct and is no longer qualified to apply to the US Naval Academy. Or of  6-year-old Zachary Christie who was so excited to join the Cub Scouts, that he wanted to use his camp utensils to eat his lunch that he brought them to school… but we cannot tolerate such behavior so he must spend 40 days in reform school.

What? Excuse me while I pick my jaw up off the floor.

What sort of lesson are you teaching children? Sit down, shut up, conform conform conform. Follow the rules, even the bad ones, even the wrong ones, because we’ll make your life even worse if you don’t. Better to hide behind a policy than think. We’ll ruin you for life for any simple mistake you make. Childhood is no longer a time to make mistakes, to learn, to tolerate and grow. No. You mess up, you’re done. This is what ‘is our children learning’. *sigh*

It’s another reason why I enjoy homeschooling our kids. My kids get in trouble when they do NOT have a pocketknife on them. Learning how to safely handle firearms is part of essential curriculum! But whatever infraction my children make, there’s no blind policy that leaves no room for understanding, no room for them to learn. Yes, we tolerate mistakes. As their parents and chief educators, we’re here to help our children learn and grow. We understand that childhood is full of more mistakes and failures than successes, because this is the early stages of learning and that’s just how it goes.

And people wonder why kids lose their childhood so quickly these days….

2 thoughts on “On zero-tolerance policies

    • “Zero-tolerance” is a frightening concept. Imagine if we applied it to other venues in life.

      Furthermore that whole “treat others as you’d like to be treated” way to live life? So, do you want to be treated this way? a question administrators should ask themselves. If they (or their children) wouldn’t want to be on the receiving end of such a policy, is it really a good policy?

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