We must distinguish between scary students and annoying ones

In this guest column, Tafelski, supervising attorney for the Georgia Legal Services Program, talks about the misguided zeal that has led to zero tolerance policies in many schools.

Op-Ed (Georgia)

Atlanta Journal Constitution (AJC)
June 20, 2018

Tags: Schools: Discipline

Organizations mentioned/involved: Georgia Legal Services Program (GLSP)


The definition of discipline is “to teach.” But the blind enforcement of zero tolerance policies only teaches children that they are unwanted and undeserving of our support and compassion. Alienating children, negatively labeling them, and criminalizing their misbehavior does not make our communities safer. We give children the effective tools to succeed as adults when we offer empathy and positive, collaborative approaches to solving their challenges and meeting their needs.

As we work to improve school safety in the wake of the latest shootings, let’s commit to evidence-based, appropriate solutions, instead of expelling students under the guise of zero tolerance.