ERIC Number: ED454314
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2000-Jun
Opportunities Suspended: The Devastating Consequences of Zero Tolerance and School Discipline Policies. Report from a National Summit on Zero Tolerance [Proceedings] (Washington, DC, June 15-16, 2000).
Harvard Civil rights Project, Cambridge, MA.
This report contends that public school administrators no longer rely on literal interpretations of states' and districts' zero tolerance policies and overzealously promote safety, inventing creative interpretations of the laws and using them to suspend and expel children based on relatively minor offenses. Minority students are disproportionately disciplined, with African Americans suspended and expelled at much higher rates than whites within the same schools. According to findings from the U.S. Department of Education, zero tolerance policies are more likely to exist in predominantly African-American and Latino school districts. Zero tolerance policies do not provide guidance or instruction and often breed student distrust toward adults, nurturing an adversarial attitude. Suspended students suffer academically. Only 26 states required alternative educational assignments for suspended or expelled students, and many such programs provide inadequate education. Case studies illustrating the philosophy of zero tolerance highlight: the need for teacher training in classroom management and conflict resolution; the fact that schools should monitor teachers' disciplinary referrals to ensure fair application of disciplinary codes; and the importance of administrators' attitudes toward suspension and learning. Research on schools that succeed in facilitating achievement, safety, and low disciplinary referrals indicates that they all include: positive approaches to discipline; bonding opportunities for teachers and students; teacher training in classroom management; clear codes of conduct; and discipline focused on problem prevention. Appendixes contain zero tolerance in the news, legal protection for students facing zero tolerance policies, disciplinary measures required under state laws and the availability of alternative education programs, and promising practices. (SM)
Descriptors: Administrator Attitudes, Black Students, Classroom Techniques, Discipline, Educational Environment, Elementary Secondary Education, Expulsion, Hispanic American Students, Minority Group Children, Punishment, Racial Discrimination, School Policy, Student Behavior, Student Rights, Suspension, Teacher Attitudes, White Students, Zero Tolerance Policy
Civil Rights Project, Harvard University, 124 Mt. Auburn Street, Suite 400 South, Cambridge, MA 02138. Tel: 617-384-7537; Fax: 617-495-5210; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org; Web site: http://www.law.harvard.edu/groups/civilrights.
Publication Type: Collected Works - Proceedings
Education Level: N/A
Sponsor: John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, Chicago, IL.; Ford Foundation, New York, NY.; Mott (C.S.) Foundation, Flint, MI.; Rockefeller Foundation, New York, NY.; Open Society Inst., New York, NY.
Authoring Institution: Harvard Civil rights Project, Cambridge, MA.