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Zero Tolerance’s Harmful Effects: Its Origins, Misinterpretations, and Discriminatory Nature

dc.contributor.authorRenner, Katherine
dc.descriptionTeaching and Learning Department Capstone projecten_US
dc.description.abstractZero tolerance policies that mandate expulsion for a variety of student behaviors have become extremely prevalent in almost all schools today. These policies originated as federal law in the 1980s and transitioned into the school system in the early 1990s. In 1994, President Clinton’s passage of the Gun-Free Schools Act mandated that schools expel students who bring weapons to school for at least one year. This law was originally intended to be preventative, in that it attempted to prevent violent or dangerous situations before they occurred. Additionally, schools were supposed to implement zero tolerance policies along with preventative programs such as peer counseling and mediation. However, as states began to adopt zero tolerance policies, their interpretations added additional offenses such as possession of drugs or alcohol as well as subjective behaviors such as disrespect, disruptive behavior, or verbal abuse. This meant that students could be excluded from school for a variety of offenses that did not necessarily pose a threat to anyone else’s safety. Even within the same state, different school administers had varying levels of comprehension of zero tolerance policies. Therefore, they interpreted these policies differently in their schools. The different implementations of zero tolerance policies grew in the number of students they impacted and contributed to the growth of exclusionary discipline, or any form of punishment that removes the student from the learning environment, as a primary form of punishment. As exclusionary discipline was applied to students for a variety of subjective behaviors, students from racial minorities, lower socio-economic statuses, and students with lower records of academic performance have been disproportionately punished in this manner. These students, who are often already marginalized in schools, often come from a home culture that does not reflect the dominant culture of power within schools. Therefore, teachers and administrators may misinterpret students’ actions and discipline events that do not merit this discipline, resulting in social and academic alienation from school. Keywords: zero tolerance, exclusionary or removal discipline, diverse learners, urban schoolsen_US
dc.publisherVanderbilt University. Peabody Collegeen_US
dc.subjectzero tolerance, urban educationen_US
dc.subject.lcshEducation, Urbanen_US
dc.subject.lcshSchool violence -- Preventionen_US
dc.subject.lcshSchool discipline -- Law and legislationen_US
dc.subject.lcshSchools -- Security measuresen_US
dc.titleZero Tolerance’s Harmful Effects: Its Origins, Misinterpretations, and Discriminatory Natureen_US
dc.description.collegePeabody College of Education and Human Developmenten_US
dc.description.departmentDepartment of Teaching and Learningen_US

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