So I came across this. Anyone else as ticked off about it as I am?
A seven year old boy points his finger like a gun and is suspended (well, given in-school suspension) because of it. The school said they told him to stop repeatedly but he would not. And you know it's totally unlike a seven year old to do the exact opposite of what they are told. I know I never went against what my teachers or parents told me to do. Also, I have a nice beach property in Florida to sell to you at a steal, I'm practically giving it away. Cash up front. You send it to me and I'll hand over the deed.
When I was that age, if someone got in trouble for not listening or acting up (which is the only think I can say he did), they were scolded, given little frowny faces on this chart or--for the most heinous of crimes--held in for recess. But I doubt any of the other children felt threatened or harassed by the boy's finger, so I really don't think it is an appropriate response. There just doesn't seem to be a reason for the punishment other than he's doing something they don't like! It's not a rude gesture and like I said, it's not really threatening. Not to mention he was probably doing it because he got such a reaction from the school.
I'm all for keeping the schools safe and suspending people for threatening others, but they can't just hold every word under a blanket policy. When I was in eighth grade, I threatened another student in a note. Yes, it was very stupid. But I wanted him to stop saying bad things about my friend. He threatened to tell on me, which would have gotten me suspended for words written in anger if my friend hadn't stolen the note from him. It was a stupid mistake, one of many kids can make. And I would have gotten a huge black mark on my record for it, even though I was never a trouble-making student and the school knew it. A detention, that I could live with. But that's not what would have happened and it scares me to think what might have happened if my friend hadn't saved my ass.
I think the zero tolerance policy is lazy. It morphs every situation into one crime without taking into account the millions of different factors that inform it. Years ago, I saw a story where a twelve year old was suspended because someone else gave him a Ritalin tablet on the bus. The kid promptly through it out the window but the driver saw him with it and he was kicked out of school. I think they even brought charges against him! And all this because the rules said handling any drug required automatic suspension. Preposterous.
It's time to start focusing on actual problems in school and remembering that there is no uniform policy for every situation. Kids do stupid things. Is it really that hard to distinguish threats from bad behavior? I don't have children, nor do I teach, so I don't know. But as a former student, all I can say is what I experienced at the other end of zero tolerance. It didn't stop kids from bullying me and others and it didn't teach me any lesson besides "if you ever screw up, you'll be in big trouble."
Zero tolerance is intolerance. Let the kid play his game and find a real problem to worry about. I'm sure they're there.