School Discipline, Zero Tolerance Policies, and American K-12 Education

School Discipline, Zero Tolerance Policies, and American K-12 Education

Christopher A. Mallett (Cleveland State University, USA)
Copyright: © 2019 |Pages: 20
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-6246-7.ch017

Abstract

This chapter reviews some of the history of establishing public schools through compulsory attendance laws for children, as well as the use of school discipline over time. The primary focus is on more recent times whereby the public schools across the country followed the juvenile justice system's “tough on crime” pathway since the 1990s. The increased use of zero tolerance policies and police (safety resource officers) in the schools has exponentially increased school-based arrests and referrals to the juvenile courts. These policies have not increased school safety and in many cases have inadvertently made schools less safe. These changes have also disproportionately ensnared a smaller group of at-risk and already disadvantaged students, including certain minorities, those with special education disabilities, and those who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender (LGBT).
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Compulsory Education And Student Discipline

Schools and education were not part of most children’s lives during the nation’s early colonial and post-colonial years as families worked together at trades or farming (Parkerson & Parkerson, 2001). However, as children’s rights were recognized in the mid to later 1800s and as adolescence was identified as a distinct developmental stage, schools became increasingly responsible for not just the education of students, but for managing and disciplining them as well (Groen, 2008).

Key Terms in this Chapter

Corporal Punishment: Refers to disciplinary action that is physical in nature and delivered by teachers or school administrators as punishment for some type of student misbehavior.

School (Police) Resource Officers: Police officers that work on school campuses.

Columbine High School Shooting: The 1999 school shootings at Columbine High School in Colorado remains one of the deadliest mass shootings in the United States and the deadliest high school shooting.

No Child Left Behind Act: A 2001 law (expired in 2016) that set standards across the nation’s public schools that required all students to be tested across certain academic areas in all primary and secondary grades. School districts were required to take disciplinary and administrative actions based on results.

Student Code of Conduct: A document that spells out school policies, rules, and consequences for students and families.

Gun Free Schools Act of 1994: A federal law that encouraged states to take a tough on crime approach to their schools by introducing “zero tolerance policies.”

Zero Tolerance Policies: School district policies that mandate predetermined consequences or punishments for specific offenses that are intended to be applied regardless of the seriousness of the behavior, mitigating circumstances, or situational context.

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