Target: Mr. Arne Duncan, United States Secretary of Education
Goal: Support new guidlines from the Department of Education that keep kids in school and out of jail for minor infractions
Zero-tolerance disciplinary rules at schools push children into the prison system, increase the rate of drop outs, and create a hostile environment between students and school administrators. New guidelines from the Department of Education move away from these zero-tolerance policies. Applaud Mr. Arne Duncan, the United States Secretary of Education, for taking a stand to keep kids in school and out of jail.
Under the current zero-tolerance policies at most schools, any infraction of certain rules can result in harsh punishments even if the violation was accidental or minor. For example, a school suspended a child for carrying cough drops under their zero-tolerance drug policy. This type of zero-tolerance enforcement has been a disaster for children, especially minorities and special needs kids who are disproportionately impacted.
The new guidelines issued by the Department of Education move away from zero-tolerance and supports positive discipline, conflict resolution, and common sense. They encourage the creation of a healthy school environment and include practices like peer mediation, social and emotional learning, and increased collaboration with mental health professionals instead of law enforcement.
Applaud this move away from zero-tolerance and towards common sense.
Dear Mr. Duncan,
Thank you for the recent guidance given to school administrators to help end zero-tolerance policy enforcement. Over the last 15 years, zero-tolerance policies paved a path that led into the criminal justice system instead of higher education. These policies have been detrimental to children, have disproportionately affected minorities and special needs children, and have created a hostile environment in our schools.
The new guidance is refreshing and addresses school disciplinary issues with proven, positive, methods. Peer mediation, conflict resolution, and helping children learn social and emotional coping skills will not only decrease the number of students railroaded into jail, but will give students valuable skills to help them succeed later in life.
Many schools will be slow to implement the new guidelines, leaving a generation of kids to languish in hostile school environments where simple mistakes can lead to permanent legal records. Mr. Duncan, thank you for starting the move away from zero-tolerance. I urge you to continue to push these vital changes through the school system and give our children the best chance at a good future.
[Your Name Here]
Photo Credit: uriopenminds via wikispaces