The reviewed publication was about a kindergarten student at a Colorado elementary schoolwho was swiftly suspended from school after bringing a bubble gun onto school grounds.
Thelittle girl brought the item to school without the knowledge or approval of her mother. Thebubble gun was a small clear plastic toy with pictures of princesses that had a bottle of bubblesattached, but was clearly in the shape of a gun. The student removed the gun from her backpackbefore the start of the school day to show her friends.
When the gun was discovered, thestudent and the gun were immediately taken to the principal’s office and disciplinary action wastaken. The student was immediately placed on suspension and her mother was notified to pickher up immediately. The school informed the parent they had a strict zero tolerance policy ongun control and that the suspension was the disciplinary action set in their school policy. Thechild’s parent picked her up and the child was suspended for the remainder of the school day.The student was allowed to return to school the next day. However, the student was upset overthe punishment and did not want to return to school the next day. The mother, who was clearlyupset and in disagreement with the punishment, took to the media to express her feelings onthe situation. She stated that she would not have publicly discussed the situation, but she feltthe principal conveyed a superior attitude and would not discuss the situation with her.
She feltthe principal was going to enforce the punishment no matter what the circumstances presentedmay be. Obviously, the child’s mother did not feel her daughter should have received such aharsh punishment. She felt that the school’s corrective action toward her daughter wasunforgiving and needless. Zero tolerance policies in schools are often a topic of great debate. A zero tolerance policy is onein which the violation of a rule is given a specific and set punishment regardless of thecircumstances behind the action. In this story under review I do not agree with the school’sactions regarding the punishment of a kindergarten child who brought a bubble gun onto school grounds. I understand, and agree, that schools must provide safety and protection to theirstudents and faculty; however I also feel that there needs to be a balance between the safety ofthe students and proper punishment.
I believe that zero tolerance policies are an ineffectivemeans of regulating behavior within a school system. As seen in this case, if students arereceiving punishments that are extreme and don’t necessarily make sense to the student, thepunishment becomes ineffective and instead generates emotions of anger and a loss of respectfor the school in the student. I do believe that policies should be in place to provide safety to allstudents and to create a safe environment within the school, however violations of the policyshould be viewed on a case by case basis, and punishments should be given as seen fit. Forexample, in this case this little girl did not mean any harm to any student, the behavior was notviolent in nature, and the child was so small she did not understand the extent of her actions.
The school’s actions of providing such a harsh punishment created a sense of unease anduncertainty in the girl concerning her school. This was demonstrated in her fear of returning toschool the next day. Removing this small child from her classroom for a day did not send amessage to her fellow students regarding the importance of following school policies, nor did itcreate a safer environment than had already existed before the student was removed. Inactuality, the punishment did nothing more than create a sense of mistrust between a smallchild and her school. 3. As an employee of any school district it is important to know and understand all policies andprocedures within the school district. It is a teacher’s responsibility to report or take action asnecessary if any policies set forth by the school district have been violated. Although a teachermay not necessarily agree with a school’s policy or disciplinary action, it is important todemonstrate to the students that you respect the rules and procedures of the school.
If ateacher fails to demonstrate respect, how can we expect students to be respectful and obey the rules? Therefore in my discipline as a secondary biology teacher I will be sure to follow and showagreement with any zero tolerance policies my school may have in place. I will be responsible totake action against any student in violation of these policies regardless of the situation orcircumstances. It is also my responsibility to ensure a safe environment for my students, andany behavior violent in nature will not be tolerated. I will be sure to provide the message to mystudents that I stand behind my school in any policies they have in place. Violations of thesepolicies will not be tolerated. Also, because I will be instructing students in 7th grade or above, Iwould expect these students to also be well aware of and understand the school’s policies anddisciplinary actions.
Students will be held accountable for their actions. Any violations of a zerotolerance policy would be handled immediately and brought to the attention of the schooladministration. I would show my support to any decisions or punishments they place upon astudent.