It's Time To End Zero-Tolerance Lunacy

Anyone who has been reading this blog for any lengthy of time knows of my disgust for zero-tolerance policies, particularly when they're being applied to our schools. Such policies remove any need by administrators to make decisions about infractions, real or imagined, and let's them make the lame excuse about it being “policy”, thus relieving them of any responsibility to make decisions.

As we have seen again and again, zero-tolerance policies tend to punish the innocent, 'criminalizing' behavior that even 10 years ago would have been seen as being normal among school-aged children. As most of these policies focus on behavior seen mostly in boys, we have to look at many such policies as being programs that are aimed at neutering males. For the most part they fail because, quite rankly, human nature tends to be stronger than the pseudo-intellectual “policies” that were designed to reprogram boys into being more like girls. (Is this a bit of a stretch? Sure it is. But looking at the long term goals of such policies, one has to wonder if there isn't a kernel of truth in that speculation.)

Push-back against zero-tolerance policies has been growing as more innocent children are caught up in it, usually to the detriment of the very children they are supposed to protect.

Even Glenn Reynolds has gone national on this issue with his latest USA Today column on the growing zero-tolerance stupidity in our schools.

[I]s this steady stream of incidents an indication of widespread mental deficiency among America's K-12 educators? In a word, yes.

It's already well-established that education majors have the lowest test scores of any college major, but nonetheless tend to graduate with high grades. That certainly suggests a lack of critical faculties. But the constant stream of stories of zero-tolerance stupidity suggests that there's something more lacking here than just academic smarts: There seems to be a severe deficit of the very sort of critical thinking that the education industry purports to be instilling in kids. One might dismiss any one of these events as an isolated incident, but when you have -- as we clearly do -- a never ending supply of such incidents, they're no longer isolated: They're a pattern.

This is a serious PR problem for the American education establishment, but underlying the bad publicity is a serious substantive problem: When your kids attend schools like these, they are under the thumb of Kafkaesque bureaucrats who see no problem blotting your kid's permanent record for reasons of bureaucratic convenience or political correctness.

At some point, voluntarily putting your kid in such a situation looks a bit like parental malpractice -- especially if your kid is a boy, since boys seem to do worse in today's nearly-all-female K-12 environment. A private industry that generated this much bad publicity would be in trouble already.

The last point Reynolds brings up is something I've been saying for some time.

With the increasingly politicized educations system becoming less about education and more about indoctrination it isn't surprising more parents are turning to home schooling, online schooling, or private schools in an effort to protect their children from the abuses being perpetrated by the public education system. I know a number of families that have pulled their kids out of public schools and have home-schooled them.

The one thing I've noticed about home-schooled kids is that they are better educated and reason better than their public school counterparts. They tend to be ahead of publicly-schooled students academically, with more than a few of them graduating from high school a year or more ahead of public school students. They are also better prepared for college...and for the real world. They haven't had their heads stuffed with PC bulls**t, esteem-building activities, or gender politics crap so often imposed upon kids in public schools.

OK, I've gotten a little off-topic, but it seems that zero-tolerance policies are just another symptom of the decay of our public education system, where schools are less about education and more about indoctrination and securing teaching jobs for union members. (Notice I didn't say “teaching jobs for teachers”. In my experience true teachers don't like the unions, as unions tend to foster mediocrity. We've seen that in Wisconsin where large numbers of teachers unions have been decertified as teachers have abandoned them. Why? Because they never wanted to belong to the unions in the first place.)

It's time for us to address the zero-tolerance policies that have had such widespread negative effect. It's time to do away with them and the 'administrators' who depend upon them.

It's time to restore sanity to our public schools.