American schools have developed what they describe as a zero tolerance policy intended to eliminate undesirable behavior by students. Zero tolerance is in place in the 109,000 public schools in America. The problem with these policies is that they reflect the idiocy of teachers and school administrators who apply draconian sanctions against students for minor and frequently unwitting infractions.

Congress passed the Drug-Free Schools and Campuses Act of 1989 (Pub.L. 101-226, December 12, 1989, 103 Stat. 1928). The act banned the unlawful use, possession, or distribution of drugs and alcohol by students and employees on school grounds and college campuses. It required educational agencies and institutions of higher learning to establish disciplinary sanctions for violations or risk losing federal aid. As a result, the majority of schools and colleges immediately began to adopt zero tolerance polices to safeguard their federal funding.

A second-grader from Alexandria, La., was booted for bringing her grandfather’s gold-plated pocket watch to school; the timepiece had a tiny knife attached.

Consider Hunter Spanjer, a 3 year-old deaf boy in Lincoln, Neb., who was bullied by public school officials to change his name because the hand sign for “Hunter” looks like a weapon. The Grand Island school district’s policy forbids children from bringing to school “any instrument ... that looks like a weapon.” (Even though Hunter was not bringing anything to school; he was only using his hand to sign.) The sign for his name can’t be changed because it’s the official hand sign registered through S.E.E. (Sign Exact English.

Political correctness underlies this mindless implementation of a federal law that was enacted to assure that government dollars will continue to flow into the coffers of these schools. New categories of infractions have been added since the original focus on prohibiting guns, drugs, etc. Now things like hate speech are punishable. It is distressing to see the mindless, politically motivated results of zero tolerance policies by school administrators and teachers. It is a picture of the people who are presumably teaching our children. The question is what are they teaching them?

There are countless instances of school administrators and teachers placing incredibly severe punishments on children who were judged to have violated zero tolerance policy. An 8-year-old boy pointed his finger at a classmate and said bang, bang. He was suspended from school.

Another child had a piece of paper cut into a shape that looked like a gun. He was sanctioned severely. This idiotic behavior on the part of school employees borders on the insane. It is scary to realize that these kinds of things happen all of the time. These teachers and school administrators should never be permitted to be near children, let alone punish them for offenses the children had no idea they committed.

Gene Williams

Hamilton

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