Detention or Jail? Why Zero Tolerance School Policies Have Been A Bust

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Some school districts are moving away from their zero tolerance policies in discipline because they aren’t effective. High dropout and arrest rates, combined with low grades, have too often been the result. Florida’s Broward County has decided to back off of their zero tolerance policies. This is because the sixth largest school district in the nation has seen an increase in suspensions and expulsions since adopting them in the early ’90s. It appears that the biggest infractions against the students are minor ones, such as graffiti spraying or marijuana possession.
Following in Florida’s footsteps are Los Angeles, Chicago, Denver, and Baltimore, who are all reexamining their policies. Judith Browne Dianis, co-director of the Advancement Project, spoke with Roland Martin on NewsOne Now about the shift.
“The bottom line is we’re trying to put common sense back in discipline,” she observed. “What we know is too many young people are being pushed out of school and off of an academic track — and onto a track to prison — through zero tolerance. They’re not only being suspended, but also arrested. It used to be a trip to the principal’s office. Now it’s a trip to a jail cell.
“At the end of the day,” she continued, “when you suspend a young person, they’re more likely to fail. They’re more likely to drop out…the best place for a young person to be is in a classroom, learning.”
Listen to what else Browne Dianis had to say in the clip here.

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