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  • della2

    It has been used as a substitute for common sense. Our children's behavior are generally not Criminal and should be handled in the school system not the courts. Stop the rhetoric and help the kids. badart

      • della2

        Most parents don't know until there child has an issue. It is important to inform and work for change.

  • Starley Shelton


    I am definitely a proponent of defined behavioral standards and consistent enforcement. I really could not care less about racial ramifications in results. Either the action taken by the individual is acceptable or it is not. That is not a racial issue. If one race is inordinately effected we can only assure equity in enforcement. After that it may be possible, for some reason, whether economic or whatever, the group is more prone. If that is true, we will not eliminate the problem by ignoring the fact the inappropriate behavior exists.

    However, zero tolerance is only effective if the response is a consistent move to correct the behavior. I might recommend the American Indian Model (AIM) for charter schools, Oakland, CA. Misconduct might result in removal from the general student body but the focus becomes to correct behavior AND continue education. For expulsion does nothing for either society, the student, or even the total educational environment.

    I might recommend this link as in one the most violent environments in the US you have a system of mainly minority students that is orderly, non-violent, high attendance, and almost total college acceptance. It does show their are better systems that not just can, but are succeeding.

    • Melinda Anderson

      "I really could not care less about racial ramifications in results" and sending me a link from the Koch-funded Cato Institute that supports voter suppression laws that strip minority voters of voting rights is all I really need to know about your POV. As these policies affect children who look like my son -- not the children in your bio pic -- you have the luxury not to care. I do care and will continue my activism on this issue. Nothing more to add.

  • Starley Shelton

    "How long will we allow black and Hispanic children to be punished more harshly than white children for the same offenses?"

    I thought you were talking about zero tolerance. Under zero tolerance there is a defined penalty for a defined offense. No give and no subjectivity. So where is the racial element? The crime is defined and so is the penalty.

    It was subjective decisions, which you are now endorsing, that led to lawsuits for racial bias. Zero tolerance was the response to inject objectivity into the system.

    • Nefarious Newt

      Just because words are written on a paper does not mean the "subtle" biases of administrators are suddenly wiped away. Minority students are disproportionately the victims of these ham-handed tactics because the policy provides a shield for the racism endemic to the system. Minority students are still seen as lacking the capability to learn the same as the typical white student, and so their disruptive outbursts are more likely to trigger the enforcement of such "zero tolerance" policies, whereas a white child's may not.

      You can wish to believe that there is some magical equity in these policies, but they are merely cover for incompetent administrators to hide behind while they systematically disenfranchise minority students.

  • persuasive

    In NYC when students are suspended they are assigned to another learning facility with others to continue their schooling during the suspension period. The NY Times article has jumbled a lot of statistics which are then read into with some bias to create an issue which is then turned into a purely racial dynamic as opposed to allowing for controlling for various catalysts and then gathering statistics which could help focus the causes of the problem more effectively. After all, the bottom line is to help resolve and/or partially neutralize any real underlying reasons for continues misbehavior as often as need be to allow for a productive learning environment for the classroom as a whole. Jumping directly to the race issue is a disservice to the very races involved and can never properly correct the various dynamics which play a formative role in many students who choose to misbehave, sometimes gravely so.

    • Melinda Anderson

      Would disagree that post 'jumps directly to race issue' as I point out that zero tolerance doesn't work, has unintended consequences, and on top of that *all that* is linked to racial discriminatory practices. You like other commenters choose to focus on the student behavior rather than the *adult behavior* leading to this situation. If the focus is on children -- all children -- exclusionary discipline that pushes them out of school for minor infractions like talking back is wrong. The fact that this is happening disproportionately to students of color is outrageous.

  • Matt DiGeronimo

    I was with you Melinda until you drug race into the discussion. I am truly confused about the following lead that you made:

    The new federal guidance intends to balance school safety with the shocking overuse of suspension, expulsion or arrest and address a vicious pattern: "black students, especially boys, bearing the brunt of these policies."

    Huh? Why? The policy trend of zero tolerance is silly and needs to be calibrated, but it appears as if you assume that disciplinary policies affect black students more than other students . . . why is this? . . . are black students less disciplined? have less impulse control? . . . I don't think that way, do you?

    Then you conclude with:
    "How long will we allow black and Hispanic children to be punished more harshly than white children for the same offenses?" but provided no evidence or discussion that they are . . . just rather it is assumed that they are.

    This mentality, imho, is the more detrimental to bridging the racial divide gap than overt racism . . . because it is disguised.

    • Melinda Anderson

      Matt: Did you click the link that is embedded with the phrase you noted: "black students, especially boys"? If so, you would see a NYT story that if read In its entirety should lessen your confusion on why race is part of the discussion. I don't "assume" this to be the case. It is the case. For future reference, when links are provided, they are used to support the statements made. Thank you.

  • woodbat

    If there's anyone that should know about overlooking crimes, big and small, it has to be Eric Holder.

  • anokwale

    I do agree that teachers should be allowed to use their common sense because they know the students. There is no need for zero tolerance rules. However, I do believe that corporal punishment should be one of the options. The problem in the American system is that the students have no fear of the teachers and depending on the household they are coming from, sometimes they believe that they have the right to stand up to and even attack teachers. The key is setting the tone in the early years of schooling.

      • anokwale

        Unfortunately, there are many schools where the kids are violent and it is not specific to any race. In contrast, in many other countries on the planet, some "advanced ones" i.e. Japan, corporal punishment is allowed but the kids are not violent. Funny enough, I was watching GPS hosted by Fareed Zakaria on CNN and they brought up an interesting point. In Japan, the kids and adults love the violent video games. They purchase more than anyone else on the planet. Yet, they do not go out an d emulate the violence. My point is that although the USA is the greatest country in the world, when it comes to keeping children disciplined about school, we fall way short and then we try to blame it on video games, parents, schools, etc...Sometimes we need to stop and think about whether our strategy here in the USA is the right one. If we want to do a global study specifically comparing our Black children from similar economic backgrounds (adjusting for country standards) we might come up with some interesting conclusions about African-American, African and West Indian children and outcomes. I think the attitude towards authority in the school is very different and that makes a difference in outcomes. I think sometimes we overthink things. Ultimately, as grown ups, we all have to respect authority and follow rules. If as an adult I go to a restaurant, bar or house of worship and misbehave someone can physically kick me out and beat me in the process. Not so??

        • Melinda Anderson

          I'm not sure where you eat, drink or worship, or where you got the idea that it's permissible that someone can beat adults if they if they "misbehave" in any of these establishments. That's known as assault. Also, if read my piece, you will see that in many cases where zero tolerance is applied it's for non-violent offenses. So your soliloquy about violent American children has no relevance here. For what it's worth.

  • FudgeSundae

    I'm a student in 8th grade and I see racial profiling a lot. Black students in the hallway after the bell rings are pulled aside and scolded while Asian students, such as me, are left alone. In classes, especially with substitute teachers, Black students are not scolded for talking during class, or having phones out, but when an Asian student does they get in trouble. I think that assuming that Black students are natural troublemakers, and Asian students are naturally studious, and the likes for other races is a big problem in American schools. (Note, I live right outside D.C.)

    • Melinda Anderson

      Thanks for your comment. It's great to hear from a student! Very perceptive.

  • Michele Alise

    Sorry, I missed the details that explain how this is racial profiling. The study shows percentages of black and Hispanic explusions, but nothing about how white (or other ethnicities) making similar disturbances are getting off the hook. I want to see the correlations here, but the points aren't well made. Offering calculus to a few accelerated students with abilities instead of classes that a higher percentage of students could benefit from could also be criticized by those who like to criticize. Higher paid, more experienced teachers may not wish to teach in schools with high incidents of disturbances, this isn't profiling, it's common sense. Back in the day, I was suspended (almost expelled) from school for forging an absent note, I am also white. As for zero tolerance, I think criminalizing a minor offense is wrong, but I do see cracking down on disturbances in the classroom as an attempt to bring back order and hopefully better educate those students who are there to learn. Better parenting all around would likely change these statistics and return schools to institutions of learning, not discipline.

    • Melinda Anderson

      Your comment is slightly scatter-shot in its arguments but I'll do my best to address most of them.

      1) All of the links in the 7th paragraph include reference to federal studies documenting racial disparity in school discipline including suspensions and expulsions. Those details explain racial profiling. For further reading and details:

      2) As the studies show, minority students are being more harshly punished for the same or similar infractions as white students. The only issue for "higher paid, more experienced teachers" is how those teachers discipline students of different races.

      3) I appreciate you sharing, but you must know that your history with being suspended is really irrelevant. Do white students get suspended? Yes. But statistically, zero tolerance leads to more minority students being suspended/expelled for *same* offense and put into the criminal justice system for non-violent offenses. This is outrageous policy that needs to change.

      4) Parenting is always important. Evergreen. But parenting and zero tolerance are totally separate. "These statistics" as you note are not a byproduct of parenting. They are a byproduct of schools/admins/teachers doling out disparate treatment.

      • Michele Alise

        Thank you for the link to the study. I read it through hoping to find a conclusive argument in either direction. What I observed is that while there did appear to be a disparity between the black/white ratio of infractions/suspensions/expulsions, when it came down to comparing the actual offenses, the data gets less specific. In fact, there are no clear stats in the report to indicate, as you say, a disparity of punishment for "*same* offense." It's relevant.

        Instead, there is a rather cryptic +/- system utilized for rating the lesser offenses, which attempts to imply that smoking or leaving without permission are somehow worse than threats and disrespect. Then the most dangerous offenses like violence, fighting, endangering, throwing objects, sexual acts, indecent exposure, etc. are not even compared. I was amazed that Latinos and other races only made up 2% of students in the schools studied? But the report is a bit outdated (2004/05), these reasons make it incomplete and somewhat biased, in my opinion. I was unable to find what non-violent offenses are putting students into the "criminal system."

        My disclosure about having been suspended wasn't about my need to "share," but to point out that kids have problems and act out in various ways because of them. If you believe that fighting, truancy and offensive language have nothing to do with parenting, then I cannot image where the responsibility lies. If one is not acting out, they are not sent to the office.

        In any case, it isn't my objective to prove the findings incorrect, I just try to be careful about making judgments on subjects that inherently inflame emotions and call racism, gender inequality, social injustice, etc. I want to be on the right side of what is just and fair, but I need to be able to see it objectively and I just don't feel this article comes through. That said, I'll keep an open mind and follow this subject more closely. Cheers.

        • Melinda Anderson

          I said "same or similar" to underscore that children of color are receiving punishments that do not equal the punishments white children receive for comparable infractions.

          As for "acting out" -- was this child acting out when she was expelled over a science experiment?

          You willfully ignore a treasure trove of data, educators and other experts backing up what I stated in my post. I hope you do follow the subject more closely and with time become better informed. Cheers.

          • Michele Alise

            I understood what you were underscoring, and if true, that wouldn't be fair. I haven't willfully ignored anything, I just don't find the information conclusive in the same way that you do. If one approaches a question with the conclusion already determined, then there is no disproof. I try to approach things from both sides and hope I'll be allowed that process without being judged or insulted. As for the article, suspension: yes, felony: no. Sad to say but if it was let go and happened again and someone was seriously injured, that school was going to be sued and that child mamed for life. Some situations are lose-lose unfortunately, but don't necessarily speak racism. Thank you for the kind discourse.

            • Melinda Anderson

              Michele, your comments from the start do not speak to the "open mind" that you aspire to. "Sorry, I missed the details that explain how this is racial profiling" equates to "I did not click on any of the links" because if you had it would have provided the details you were seeking. Or it says "I read the piece and still don't believe it's racial profiling" which means no matter what is said, you won't see it as racial profiling. In either case, my post is well supported via embedded links. I would invite you to consider that as a white woman, your analysis of what is and is not racial profiling might be a bit skewed. For your consideration. Regards.

  • DTilstra

    Banning teachers from the use of corporal punishment was a good thing because as a student, I witnessed inappropriate use of a paddle. I feel that this measure was instituted in its place and it is sad to see that it has been used inappropriately and may be causing more harm because teachers/administration seem to lack the ability or the permission to use a "common sense" approach to discipline. I feel that both teachers and students need Non-violent Communication skill building for not only the classroom but for the balance of their lives.