Punishing students for gadget use will make their tech etiquette worse

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

At the start of this year, the President Barack Obama administration made a New Year’s resolution for schools nationwide. It urged them to drop the “zero tolerance” approach to discipline, joining a growing chorus of critics of policies that dispense serious punishments for small rule violations.

The recommendation from the Department of Justice is nonbinding, but comes as schools across the country have been edging away from zero tolerance on their own. It’s about time. The essence of zero tolerance is that normal but undesirable behavior counts as a strike against students. And students may get only one strike before they’re out—sometimes literally, in the form of suspensions or even expulsions. Zero tolerance is well known to harm students, especially minorities, so its apparent demise should be a relief for kids and teenagers.

But the potential end of zero tolerance is also great news for a surprising part of society: the tech sector.

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