In an effort to make classrooms safer following the massacre
at Columbine High School in 1999, schools across the US adopted zero-tolerance
discipline policies to regulate student behaviour. Designed to ensure consistent punishments for misbehaviour, the policy aims to deter disruption by threat of severe repercussions. Ideally, as a result of these procedures, students who want to learn will not have their education compromised by problematic peers.
Despite these intentions, studies dispute the effectiveness of zero-tolerance policies. Below, a graph describes the rise in out-of-school suspensions–particularly for African American students–in the wake of the policy shift.