Why & How Our Schools Punish Kids Too Much

Kupchik spent time inside four schools in two states observing teachers, administrators and students. Two of the schools are located in the Southwest and two are in the Mid-Atlantic region. In each state, one school’s student body is mostly middle-class white students and one school’s population is composed of mostly lower-income minority students.

Kupchik found discipline was doled out similarly in all four schools. “When students got in trouble, the people in charge of discipline didn’t ask questions about why they got into trouble or didn’t try to solve their underlying problems,” he said.

Instead, disciplinarians followed what Kupchik calls excessive and counterproductive strategies for dealing with students’ misbehavior, one of the worst of which is the popular notion of zero tolerance, policies that assign a certain punishment to an infraction regardless of circumstance.

From an interview with Aaron Kupchik, author of the forthcoming Homeroom Security: School Discipline in an Age of Fear

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