Zero Tolerance

Resisting the Drive for Punishment in Our Schools

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.

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