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Letter to the EditorThe zero-tolerance myth in Fairfax schools

Published on: 
Tue, 06/19/2012
Media Source: 
Washington Post

As someone who has been a long-term substitute teacher in Fairfax County for five years, logging about 4,000 classroom hours, I had to laugh at the notion [letters, June 12] that there exists a “draconian zero tolerance discipline” system in Fairfax County Public Schools. The only incidents that will get a Fairfax student in big trouble are assaulting someone, carrying a weapon and possessing drugs, all of which can get you arrested outside of school.

Teachers get cursed at, shoved and threatened. They know, however, that initiating disciplinary processes will result in tremendous amounts of precious time spent in meetings, with miscreants likely to land right back in their classrooms with little, if any, punishment meted out. As a matter of fact, it is just as likely that teachers will be viewed as not being able to control their students.

 Zero tolerance is a myth. Students are given enormous leeway. With rare exceptions, it is only those students who are habitual offenders and who create a classroom environment that hurts other students who receive the “draconian” discipline of being removed from a class or school where kids want to do well.


Jeff Stone, Reston

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