Zero Tolerance’s Harmful Effects: Its Origins, Misinterpretations, and Discriminatory Nature

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dc.contributor.author Renner, Katherine
dc.date.accessioned 2012-08-28T16:55:05Z
dc.date.available 2012-08-28T16:55:05Z
dc.date.issued 2012-06-15
dc.identifier.uri http://hdl.handle.net/1803/5148
dc.description Teaching and Learning Department Capstone project en_US
dc.description.abstract Zero tolerance policies that mandate expulsion for a variety of student behaviors have become extremely prevalent in almost all schools today. These policies originated as federal law in the 1980s and transitioned into the school system in the early 1990s. In 1994, President Clinton’s passage of the Gun-Free Schools Act mandated that schools expel students who bring weapons to school for at least one year. This law was originally intended to be preventative, in that it attempted to prevent violent or dangerous situations before they occurred. Additionally, schools were supposed to implement zero tolerance policies along with preventative programs such as peer counseling and mediation. However, as states began to adopt zero tolerance policies, their interpretations added additional offenses such as possession of drugs or alcohol as well as subjective behaviors such as disrespect, disruptive behavior, or verbal abuse. This meant that students could be excluded from school for a variety of offenses that did not necessarily pose a threat to anyone else’s safety. Even within the same state, different school administers had varying levels of comprehension of zero tolerance policies. Therefore, they interpreted these policies differently in their schools. The different implementations of zero tolerance policies grew in the number of students they impacted and contributed to the growth of exclusionary discipline, or any form of punishment that removes the student from the learning environment, as a primary form of punishment. As exclusionary discipline was applied to students for a variety of subjective behaviors, students from racial minorities, lower socio-economic statuses, and students with lower records of academic performance have been disproportionately punished in this manner. These students, who are often already marginalized in schools, often come from a home culture that does not reflect the dominant culture of power within schools. Therefore, teachers and administrators may misinterpret students’ actions and discipline events that do not merit this discipline, resulting in social and academic alienation from school. Keywords: zero tolerance, exclusionary or removal discipline, diverse learners, urban schools en_US
dc.language.iso en_US en_US
dc.publisher Vanderbilt University. Peabody College en_US
dc.subject zero tolerance, urban education en_US
dc.subject.lcsh Education, Urban en_US
dc.subject.lcsh School violence -- Prevention en_US
dc.subject.lcsh School discipline -- Law and legislation en_US
dc.subject.lcsh Schools -- Security measures en_US
dc.title Zero Tolerance’s Harmful Effects: Its Origins, Misinterpretations, and Discriminatory Nature en_US
dc.type Capstone en_US
dc.description.college Peabody College of Education and Human Development en_US
dc.description.department Department of Teaching and Learning en_US

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