Tuesday, March 29, 2011

School districts' zero-tolerance policies examined on "The View"; small classes not always the best thing

School systems have drawn attention to “zero-tolerance” policies regarding objects remotely resembling weapons or drugs. On ABC’s “The View” Tuesday morning, the gals discussed a case with a high school freshman suspended from a central Virginia high school for a whole year for shooting a plastic bee-bee from a pen at school. Apparently there was some clothing damage and the father offered restitution and agreed the boy should be disciplined, but not threatened with prosecution and suspended for a whole year or expelled.  (ABC should have the episode online Wednesday.)

Similar incidents happen now when students are found with unprescribed patent medicines on their person.
Students suspended for strict interpretation of zero-tolerance often wind up in alternative schools.

When I went to high school in the late 50s, there was nothing like this extreme concern for possible contraband. But once I lost study hall library privileges for a week for forgetting to sign in.

When I substitute taught between 2004-2007, subs were not searched for items like patent medicines. However one time a security guard was concerned that my car was open with a copy of the Washington Blade, apparently open to a personals page by accident, visible.

Ian Urbana has a story from the New York Times from Oct. 2009, link (website url) here.

 (The “Help Zachary” link no longer takes you to the right site, and NYT is now under a subscription paywall.)

On Sunday, March 27, Eva Moskovitz wrote an interesting article in The Washington Post, “The cost of small class size”,  link here.  The Post has pursued the idea several times in the past: small classes are a luxury. But now the take is that high tech, including smart boards, and master lesson plans available through carefully designed Internet access can make larger classes work.  Furthermore, some school districts make AP classes available through closed-circuit cable access on other campuses. 

Where smaller classes may matter (with older students) in in labs and recitation. It takes more individualized attention to learn to do things hands-on.  Remember those Qual unknowns? 

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