In partnership with The Center For Public Integrity
How Zero Tolerance Blurred the Lines Between Schools and Criminal Justice
In the 1980s and 1990s, as crime rates started to rise, schools across the country began to crack down on violence, disorder and weapons in the classroom. A new “get tough” approach to discipline took hold that increasingly relied on swift punishment, suspensions and arrests.
By the mid-90s, that approach to discipline had been given a name: “zero tolerance.” In 1994, the federal government called for zero tolerance, or mandatory one-year expulsion, for anyone who brought a gun to school. But many schools went even further, using a zero tolerance approach for other weapons, drugs and all sorts of misbehavior. By 2011, more than three million students a year were being suspended and nearly 250,000 were being referred to the police by their schools. And those harsh punishments were much more likely to impact minorities and students with disabilities.
More Like This
Racial Inequality Was Tearing the U.S. Apart, a 1968 Report Warned. It Was Ignored.
Anger over policing and inequality boiled over in 1967 in protests and violence across the United States. A landmark report warned that without major changes, it would happen again.
Combating the Myth of the Superpredator
In the 1990s, a handful of researchers inspired panic with a dire but flawed prediction: the imminent arrival of a new breed of “superpredators.”
Teaching Teens About Sex: The Decades-Old Debate over Abstinence-Only
A decades-old battle is re-emerging over abstinence-only sex education.
A New Housing Program to Fight Poverty has an Unexpected History
Some cities are trying to help poor children succeed by having their families move to middle-income, so-called "opportunity areas" -- an idea that was once politically impossible.