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View Diary: Update on Florida teen arrested for doing science while Black (268 comments)

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  •  Selective punishment is definitely a problem but (30+ / 0-)

    'zero tolerance' doesn't account for the fact that everyone, not just young people, make mistakes and often quickly learn from them. No need to destroy their lives over it.

    •  Well, zero tolerance... (5+ / 0-)

      ...doesn't intrinsically mean "draconian punishment".  It just means that every instance will be treated the same, regardless of circumstances.  

      It's like the love/hate relationship we tend to have with judicial discretion.  It's great when the judge is someone we trust to be fair, but not so much when that's not the case.

      •  Our job is to get judges, and principals, and DAs (16+ / 0-)

        who we can trust to be fair. Literally, that is our job as citizens in a democracy.

        I find it remarkable that people don't trust principals to make fair judgements about kids who make particular mistakes... but trust them to look after a community's worth of kids 180 days a year.

        Love and Logic (a discipline system we use at our school) has a philosophy: that equal treatment and fair treatment is not necessarily the same. As a simple example, if you have one child who loves soccer and one who is indifferent, barring them from soccer is not the same punishment.

        Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

        by elfling on Fri May 10, 2013 at 09:41:07 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  I recall that zero tolerance. My son was in 8th (28+ / 0-)

        grade art club. The club kids and the teacher who ran it were walking into town after school as they had volunteered to paint some window Christmas decorations.
        One of the boys, maybe my son (oddly don't recall that part) pulled out some chewing tobacco and passed it around. All the guys had some. The teacher noticed and asked what it was. When they told her she told them to spit it out. They did. They then went on to do their volunteer work.
        The next day all the boys were suspended for 2 weeks, couldn't make up the word etc.
        When I objected they told me it was that zero tolerance policy. I asked to see it... and these kids got the same punishment as if they had been doing cocaine on school grounds. I suggested better punishments like a research paper on long term consequences or  oral tobacco use. They weren't impressed. 2 weeks.
        I said I wanted to appeal it and they said okay but kids had to stay out of school until the hearing which would be in 2 weeks anyway.
        I objected again, they should stay in until we lost the hearing... didn't sway them.

        First I called police to check the legal status of minors possessing chewing tobacco. At the time it was not illegal.
        Then I went to school board office and was prepared to wait to fight this out. As soon as I told someone what my issue was she went into an office, then called me  in. There were several people sitting there who asked a few questions and then pronounced the punishment ridiculous and said they'd take care of it. So they could stay in school until hearing? Yes, they could stay in school but doubted there would be a hearing.
        The junior high vice principal called to tell me my son was back in school but then got pretty bitchy, telling me the other parents didn't complain. So? Well now all the kids were reinstated. Good. They didn't think so, naughty kids and no consequences. I suggested again the research paper and she got angrier. They couldn't tell me how to discipline but I was telling them and blah blah.

        Let me say I didn't immediately know I would act, hey that was there rule. But I realized if it was one of my kids/clients when I was a delinquency worker I would stand up to an unfair rule, I should certainly do the same for my son.

        He did write that research paper, footnotes and all but that was my discipline. What he learned grossed him out and he said he'd never use it agin unless he went to Sweden. As far as I know he didn't, but what do parents know.

        I am so very against suspension as punishment in any case. I remember high school enough to know I'd have enjoyed it if both parents were working..
        and often both parents do. Then you have an unsupervised kid at home all day
        After school detention along with fitting consequences makes more sense. When a kid should be suspended there should still be an attendance requirement at some special school or room...

        •  absolutely. I remember when I was caught up (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Be Skeptical

          in an incident and I was told I had to apologize which I thought was wrong. They threatened me with expulsion if I didn't apologize. I said fine. I would have been quite happy with that.

          They were very unhappy. They repeated the threat. I said fine but the other person should be the one apologizing and I wouldn't.

          Then they said my mother would have to come to school if I didn't. They said either I apologized or they would call her. I knew she would be furious if she had to come to school — furious at me!  I can't remember if they did or if I caved without it — it was over half a century ago.

          Florida schools. Bless them. They were pretty lousy then and they seem to have only gotten worse. Petty tyrants grow into administrators. It pays more than teaching.

          This is a travesty. The whole school to prison pipeline is horrific for the students, the school and the country.

          Folks, pay attention to elections for judges and school board members. It is critically important.

          I'm asking you to believe. Not in my ability to bring about real change in Washington ... *I'm asking you to believe in yours.* Barack Obama

          by samddobermann on Sun May 12, 2013 at 03:32:27 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  This is exactly what is wrong with Zero Tolerance: (22+ / 0-)
        It just means that every instance will be treated the same, regardless of circumstances.  
        (emphasis added)

        Facts matter.  The facts in any two cases are never the same.  Courts exist because the facts of each case make a difference.

        Courts are not only for determining innocence or guilt, but also for determining how the facts about each case affect the parties involved.

        Driving your car.
        Driving your friend's car.
        Driving a stolen car.

        All three are the same physical act.  Zero tolerance disregards the facts -- in your statement "regardless of the circumstances -- and punishes equally.  The facts matter:  was it your car, a borrowed car or a stolen car.

        That's an exaggerated example to demonstrate the difference, but the facts DO matter.  Circumstances should matter.

        A girl with an aspirin she didn't know was in her purse should not be treated the same as a addict with 3 dime bags. Yet, "no drugs - zero tolerance" treats them the same and that is exactly the problem.

        "The law is meant to be my servant and not my master, still less my torturer and my murderer." -- James Baldwin. July 11, 1966.

        by YucatanMan on Fri May 10, 2013 at 11:26:01 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  I would rather trust that a judge or prosecuter or (6+ / 0-)

        school administrator is capable of critical, rational, unbiased thought-processes, and weighing the circumstances in a reasonable and equitable manner.

        I will echo what has been stated in the diary, Chemistry labs are inherently dangerous with their gas powered burners, and various raw substances that are known to be flammable and volatile when mixed.

        individuals could make a disaster simply by mixing any given cleaning fluid with bleach, and yet our prisons are not overflowing?

        What gives?

    •  "Zero tolerance" makes selective enforcement easy (26+ / 0-)

      With humans in control of the system, there are many levels where mistakes and misapplication of the rules get sorted out. A principal might know that one teacher sends kids to the office for every little thing, and take that history into account. Other staff might know about grudges, prejudices and pet peeves of each other, and step in to dismiss an overly-strict case.

      When people control the system, they talk to each other, calibrating their  enforcement methods and tolerance levels with each other. A new staffer can learn by example when a warning is more effective than official questioning. Veterans know the attitudes and situations that indicate intent versus misadventure.

      When the system is completely automatic, any one staffer with a grudge can toss a kid into its maw with any light charge he happens to notice. He has no fear that anyone will second-guess his judgement or motives, and can be confident that the system will dispose of the student without consequence to himself.

      When the system is automatic, all that matters is the accuser's discretion and nobody else's. All the other kids doing the same thing, if he chooses not to notice them, are left free. All the kids doing similarly serious things which don't happen to be his pet peeve never enter the system.

      Why is there a Confederate Flag flying in Afghanistan?

      by chimpy on Fri May 10, 2013 at 09:59:00 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

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