Impact of Zero Tolerance Policies on American K-12 Education and Alternative School Models

Impact of Zero Tolerance Policies on American K-12 Education and Alternative School Models

Margaret Tseng (Marymount University, USA) and Corey Alexander Becker (Marymount University, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-9935-9.ch009
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Despite the original intent of zero tolerance policies in schools— to ensure guns and other dangerous weapons were kept out of schools—these policies have instead grown to encompass an endless variety of minor infractions that would, in previous generations, not necessarily result in the immediate removal of the student from the classroom. Zero tolerance policies do not proportionately discipline students and, instead, treats every child and situation the same. Further, studies confirm that as suspension, expulsion, and school-based arrests have increased since the mid-1990's, the majority of students being suspended, expelled, or arrested are predominately minority students. The goal of this chapter is to examine the application of zero tolerance policy in K-12 public schools and offer administrators and educators alternative school discipline models.
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Efficacy Of Zero Tolerance Policy

The debate about the efficacy of zero tolerance policies in increasing school safety has been extremely lopsided. The conventional wisdom amongst scholars is that zero tolerance policies are flawed, ineffective, and, in many cases, do more harm than good. The Vera Institute of Justice completed a review of existing research on zero tolerance policy in 2013 and concluded zero tolerance has not accomplished its goal of making schools safer and has in fact made school schools less safe (Kang-Brown, J., Trone, J., Fratello, J., & Daftary-Kapul, T., 2013).

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