A stunning report today on the utter failure of so-called 'Zero Tolerance' programs in Texas public schools.


  1200 WOAI news reports that after a decades long experiment in punishing students for even the smallest infraction, with policies which have allowed dopey school administrators to expel honor students for bringing aspirin or bottle openers to class, or for young deer hunters to have unloaded deer rifles in the trunk of their car in the school parking lot, the Council of State Government's Justice Center says the programs have given us a generation of expelled students, and schools which are not any safer than they were under old policies.


  Michael Thompson, who headed the study, says an amazing six out of ten Texas high school students have been suspended for expelled or suspended from class at least once over the past six years.


  "15 percent of students were removed from the classroom eleven or more times for disciplinary reasons," Thompson said.  "So we know there are large numbers of students who are the victims of these actions not just once, but repeatedly."


  Thompson says the result of 'zero tolerance' programs has been to victimize and deny education to the very students who need it the most.


  "African American students and those with particularly educational disabilities experience a disproportionately higher rate of removal from the classroom for disciplinary reasons," he said.


  An amazing 83% of African American students in Texas have been expelled at least once by the time they graduate, a shameful figure.


  "The great majority of African American male students had at least one discretional violation, 74% of Hispanic males, and 59% of White males," he said.

The vast majority of the suspensions or expulsons were for non violent offenses, and most were at the discretion of school administrators, not police.


  Thompson says the school districts which have a 'more balanced' approach to discipline have far better records of success than districts which follow discredited 'zero tolerance' policies.


  This study follows a study released last fall, which indicated that Texas public school police forces are growing at a disproportionate rate when compared with the student population, and continue to grow even when the ranks of teachers, coaches, and other teaching officials are shrinking.  That study also concluded that 'zero tolerance' programs are detrimental to the education of students, especially of students who are already in at-risk groups.


  That study concluded that 'zero tolerance' programs are frequently the result of highly publicized but extremely rare incidents, like the 1999 shooting at Columbine High School in Colorado.  All studies have concluded that students are far safer in school than out of school, but high profile incidents like Columbine have led parents and administrators to call for metal detectors, bulked-up police forces, and 'zero tolerance' programs in schools in response to rare incidents.