School Discipline

May 9, 2014 • Volume 24, Issue 18
Should zero-tolerance policies be revised?
By Anne Farris Rosen

Introduction

Joe Plazio (Getty Images/The Washington Post/Jahi Chikwendiu)
Fairfax County police officer Joe Plazio monitors cafeteria activity at West Springfield High School in Northern Virginia. Recent school shootings nationally have prompted calls for more armed personnel in schools. Only 1 percent of schools had police in 1975; by 2011, nearly 70 percent had security guards or police, according to a poll of students. (Getty Images/The Washington Post/Jahi Chikwendiu)

Two decades after the nation's schools began adopting zero-tolerance discipline policies to curb violence, drug use and gun threats, reform efforts are underway. New data on high rates of suspensions and expulsions are leading school officials to question whether zero-tolerance policies are being overused, especially when applied to minor infractions. Critics say get-tough discipline has disproportionately targeted minority and disabled students and created a “school-to-prison-pipeline.” Encouraged by the Obama administration, many school districts are trying new approaches, such as behavior counseling. Advocates of zero tolerance acknowledge that some school districts have been overzealous but say schools are safer today largely because of strict discipline policies. Schools also are grappling with whether hiring armed security officers improves school safety or encourages higher student arrest rates. Meanwhile, civil liberties advocates question whether school officials can regulate off-campus misbehavior, such as cyberbullying, without infringing on free speech.

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
Education Issues
Mar. 10, 2017  Charter Schools
Feb. 03, 2017  Civic Education
Sep. 05, 2014  Race and Education
Jun. 13, 2014  Dropout Rate
May 09, 2014  School Discipline
Mar. 07, 2014  Home Schooling
Dec. 02, 2011  Digital Education
Nov. 15, 2011  Expanding Higher Education
Dec. 10, 2010  Preventing Bullying Updated
Apr. 16, 2010  Revising No Child Left Behind
Mar. 26, 2010  Teen Pregnancy
Sep. 04, 2009  Financial Literacy
Jun. 05, 2009  Student Rights
Feb. 22, 2008  Reading Crisis?
Jul. 13, 2007  Students Under Stress
Apr. 27, 2007  Fixing Urban Schools Updated
Nov. 10, 2006  Video Games Updated
Mar. 03, 2006  AP and IB Programs
Oct. 07, 2005  Academic Freedom
Aug. 26, 2005  Evaluating Head Start
May 27, 2005  No Child Left Behind
Jan. 17, 2003  Home Schooling Debate
Sep. 06, 2002  Teaching Math and Science
Jun. 07, 2002  Grade Inflation
Dec. 07, 2001  Distance Learning
Apr. 20, 2001  Testing in Schools
May 14, 1999  National Education Standards
Apr. 10, 1998  Liberal Arts Education
Jul. 26, 1996  Attack on Public Schools
May 17, 1996  Year-Round Schools
Oct. 20, 1995  Networking the Classroom
Sep. 22, 1995  High School Sports
Jan. 20, 1995  Parents and Schools
Sep. 09, 1994  Home Schooling
Mar. 25, 1994  Private Management of Public Schools
Mar. 11, 1994  Education Standards
Apr. 09, 1993  Head Start
Nov. 30, 1990  Conflict Over Multicultural Education
Feb. 05, 1988  Preschool: Too Much Too Soon?
Oct. 23, 1987  Education Reform
Aug. 24, 1984  Status of the Schools
Sep. 10, 1982  Schoolbook Controversies
Sep. 03, 1982  Post-Sputnik Education
Aug. 18, 1978  Competency Tests
Jan. 26, 1972  Public School Financing
Nov. 03, 1971  Education for Jobs
Apr. 15, 1970  Reform of Public Schools
Aug. 27, 1969  Discipline in Public Schools
Dec. 27, 1968  Community Control of Public Schools
Jun. 14, 1965  Summer School Innovations
Oct. 28, 1964  Education of Slum Children
Jun. 05, 1963  Year-Round School
Mar. 28, 1962  Mentally Retarded Children
Dec. 17, 1958  Educational Testing
Sep. 25, 1957  Liberal Education
Jul. 11, 1956  Educational Exchange
Feb. 02, 1955  Federal Aid for School Construction
Mar. 07, 1951  Education in an Extended Emergency
Nov. 20, 1945  Postwar Public Education
Nov. 07, 1941  Standards of Education
BROWSE RELATED TOPICS:
Diversity Issues
Education Policy
People with Mental Disabilities
Research in Education
Teenagers