Thursday, February 03, 2005

Zero Tolerance Strikes Again

Is it fair to say that "zero tolerance" can almost always be read as "zero judgement," as school administrators across the country have imposed rigid guidelines for infractions, without regard for context? How many times in the last ten years have we heard of students being suspended for bringing aspirin or butter knives to school? To that sad history we can now add the story of Frasier McCart, a ten-year old fifth grader from Gladstone, Missouri.

While waiting for the bus to pick him up for school in the morning, Frasier spotted what appeared to be a handgun that was "bent open." Rather than leave it on the ground, Frasier put it in his backpack and immediately upon arriving at school went to the principal's office to turn it in. For his troubles he was suspended for a day for bringing a gun (which turned out to be a toy) onto school property. The school principal, Marla Wasserman, said the punishment was necessary to teach him better judgement. Frasier had mentioned to other students on the bus that he had found and had with him a gun. He wasn't trying to scare them, but he couldn't keep a secret. For this "poor judgement" on his part Ms. Wasserman chose the "light punishment" of the one-day suspension, saying "Where I think that he could have made a better decision was in not saying anything to other children and causing them concern and worry."

I'm not sure these are the people to be teaching our children about judgement.
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