Thoughts on zero tolerance
I admit to knowing little about the details of the “zero tolerance” laws (re: carrying “dangerous” implements into our schools), but your recent editorial in the Times-Herald seems too harsh in view of the reason for the ZT laws: to prevent tragedies from occurring in our schools.
Your examples of so-called “horror stories” were (1) pocketknives or other camping gear, (2) suspicious-looking keychains, and (3) cigarette lighters. In each of these examples you suggest that these were “good kids” who just forgot to remove the item from their pockets.
When I go through the TSA at the airport, they don’t cut me any slack when I have forgotten to remove the larger-than-acceptable bottle of mouthwash from my toiletries case, and I have had a couple of pocketknives confiscated. It is, after all, my responsibility to remember to not take prohibited items. Any kid who is mature enough to be trusted with a pocket-knife is mature enough to learn not to forget where he/she can’t take it.
If your opposition to the ZT laws is based on too harsh penalties, I’ll agree that maybe these should be revised, but that is a different matter altogether. And your editorial did not give any examples of what things got 3 million students expelled, or why a quarter of them were referred to law enforcement. (Even non-violent behavior can mask a sick mind on the verge of something drastic.)
I say reform some of the consequences, and include some of the measures you list in your sixth paragraph. But don’t destroy a policy that could prevent a tragedy just because some forgetful students (and some of their parents) are inconvenienced.