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Zero Tolerance Makes Zero Sense

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of

Last Monday, at the request of her principal, 12-year-old Alexa Gonzalez was arrested and marched out of her middle school in handcuffs. She spent several hours in police custody, where she says she "started crying, like, a lot...I just thought I'd get a detention."

Her crime? Writing "I love my friends Abby and Faith" on a desk in Spanish class. Principal Marilyn Grant denies any personal responsibility for the incident. She says the school's "zero tolerance" policy requires her to have students arrested and charged for run-of-the-mill incidents.

"[Grant said] that it wasn't their fault, that it was something they had to do," Alexa's mother told the New York Daily News. "She doesn't consider it doodling."

What does she consider it? Armed robbery?

Such is the nature of "zero tolerance," a mindset that relieves public schools of the burden of common sense. Students caught with aspirin are treated like crack dealers. Normal, hormonal seventh-graders are treated like sex offenders. And heaven forbid your child throws a tantrum. In Florida, a kindergartner was handcuffed and shackled by three armed policemen, arrested, and put in the back of a cruiser--for crimes like "tearing papers" and refusing to sit still. As the American Bar Association put it, "theories of punishment that were once directed to adult criminals are now applied to first graders."

Going Rogue by Sarah Palin FREE

There's a distinctly anti-male agenda behind zero tolerance, which is no surprise given that groups like the National Education Association kowtow to militant feminists. Normal, healthy boys engaging in normal masculine activities are regularly treated like felons. Forget bringing a gun to school--in many districts, merely drawing a weapon is grounds for expulsion. That's what happened to third-grader Raleigh Walker, who drew a picture of an army fort in class.

"The drawing wasn't of a child pointing a gun at another child," Raleigh's father explained. "It's a third-grader's drawing of an Army guy, a relative."

The school saw it differently, deeming it a violation of their gun-free policy. "We can't tolerate anything that has to do with guns and knives," the principal said before handing down a suspension.

Needless to say, sex abuse hysteria is written into many schools' zero-tolerance policies. A Branson, Massachusetts, third-grader was suspended for "sexual harassment" after he kissed a girl on the cheek. In Oregon, seventh graders Cory Mashburn and Ryan Cornelison spent six days in jail before being charged with five counts of felony sex abuse. Their crime? Slapping a few female classmates on the butt. (The girls told police it was part of a mutual game called "Slap Butt Day.")

While it's bad enough that schools can deem a kiss "sexual harassment" and a joke "terroristic threats," students have actually been arrested for saving lives. In Maryland, a sixth-grade girl was accused of "drug trafficking" after she shared her inhaler with a classmate suffering a severe asthma attack.

Unsurprisingly, zero tolerance horror stories rarely come out of private schools. Only a union-protected public school principal can display outrageous incompetence and then say "that's just our policy," as Alexa Gonzalez's principal did.

A police spokesman said after Alexa's arrest that "even when we’re asked to make an arrest, common sense should prevail."

In our public schools, don't count on it.

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