Rethinking ZERO TOLERANCE at last (and after a lot of damage has been done)

The New York Times finally wrote this week about the wreckage left in the wake of zero tolerance school policy. If they’d been paying attention, someone on the editorial board might have benefited from reading the book below (published in 2001).


ZERO TOLERANCE: Resisting the Drive for Punishment (2001) edited by William Ayers, Rick Ayers and Bernardine Dohrn


A handbook for parents, students, educators, and citizens: a clear-eyed collection that takes aim at the replacement of teaching with punishment in America’s schools. “Zero tolerance” began as a prohibition against guns, but it has quickly expanded into a frenzy of punishment and tougher disciplinary measures in American schools. Ironically, as this timely collection makes clear, recent research indicates that as schools adopt more zero tolerance policies they in fact become less safe, in part because the first casualties of these measures are the central, critical relationships between teacher and student and between school and community. Zero Tolerance assembles prominent educators and intellectuals, including the Rev. Jesse L. Jackson, Sr., Michelle Fine, and Patricia Williams, along with teachers, students, and community activists, to show that the vast majority of students expelled from schools under new disciplinary measures are sent home for nonviolent violations; that the rush to judge and punish disproportionately affects black and Latino children; and that the new disciplinary ethos is eroding constitutional protections of privacy, free speech, and due process. Sure to become the focus of controversy, Zero Tolerance presents a passionate, multifaceted argument against the militarization of our schools.

Topics include:
• Media and anti-youth policies
• Race, civil rights, and school discipline
• Student writing on zero tolerance
• Community agencies dealing with rehabilitation
• Zero tolerance and mentally ill students


Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: