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This is a classic example of overreaction. Zero Patience for Zero Tolerance just shows how much of a prison camp our schools have become.

And so, an 11-year-old is taken away in handcuffs for drawing a picture of a gun; an 8-year-old faces expulsion for a keychain that contained a cheap nail clipper; a fifth-grader is suspended for drawing the World Trade Center being hit by an airplane … The stories go on and on.

These are not extreme examples, this is regular, everyday behavior of kids. Well, these are extreme examples of adult overreaction to kids normal actions.

But here’s the payoff paragraph:

In commenting on the study in the journal “National Association of Elementary School Principals,” Roger W. Ashford wrote, “The study concludes, however, that even though there is little data to prove the effectiveness of zero-tolerance policies, such initiatives serve to reassure the public that something is being done to ensure safety. Therefore, the popularity of zero-tolerance policies may have less to do with their actual effect than the image they portray of schools taking harsh measures to prevent violence. Whether the message actually changes student behavior may be less important than the reassurance it provides to administrators, teachers and parents.”

Oh. So Zero Tolerance doesn’t work, but it makes everybody feel safer. That makes it okay. No it doesn’t. When you institute a policy, when you perform any act, you need to have a positive result. If you don’t, you need to reevaluate the process, make changes and try again. You don’t fail when you don’t get the expected result, you fail when you give up trying. Not changing the process after not getting the expected result is counted as giving up trying.

Insanity has been defined as doing the same thing over and over again, expecting different results. I can attest to this method personally. It doesn’t work. There needs to be a positive feedback loop to continually improve the process. That’s the way you make change and that’s the way you succeed. To do something and not expect success is stupid. And Zero Tolerance is far down that road already.

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