Zero-T, or Zero-Tolerance is no more than
an attempt to create an easy, one-size-fits-all solution that allows school administrators (from teachers to boards of education) to manage without requiring them to think.
As Ms. Sherri Jefferson so eloquently put it in her article in “The Fayette News” (Fayette County, Georgia) on July 24, 2017, "...zero tolerance means having no tolerance for children or their misjudgments..."
Zero-T as practiced today ignores the contradiction in the phrase, "juvenile delinquent." The opposite of "delinquency" is "responsibility." Responsibility is an adult trait and one that
we should be teaching
children rather than punishing them when they fail to
meet adult standards. Especially when the punishment is indiscriminate and applied without due process or in manner
that makes due process impossibly difficult to obtain
. That is delinquency. That is adults being irresponsible.
The number of egregious abuses of a school's Zero-T policy that reach the public's attention likely masks
hundreds, if not thousands, of abuses that don't reach the media. Think of the student of Middle-Eastern ethnicity who built an electronic clock, and whose family eventually left this country rather than face the slurs and attacks of the school system and community.
Ms. Jefferson also wrote something that should be self-evident: "...
students do not belong to the state." As she clearly
showed, children do not give up their constitutional rights when they enter school grounds.
To paraphrase John Donne, "No one is an island. We are all part of humanity." We all, therefore, bear responsibility for the mindless implementation of Zero-T policies in our school systems.
I call upon the school boards everywhere to obliviate
all vestiges of Zero-T in the nation's school system, and I call upon citizens, whether parents of students or not
, to demand this of their elected representatives.
Registered Curmudgeon, scientist, skeptic, humanist, and writer.