In the 1980’s a new movement began implementing policies, such as “zero tolerance” and “high-stakes testing,” that were more punitive and penalizing in both the criminal justice and public education school systems. Recent studies show the U.S. graduates fewer than seven out of every 10 high school students. Have these two disciplinary policies produced a threat to the educational opportunities of America’s youth and consequently created a dropout crisis?
In President Obama’s first address to Congress, he cited America’s school dropout rate as one of the three most pressing issues facing our country. Researchers believe policymakers are looking in the wrong places for their answers to the cause of this “crisis."
According to the report from the Advancement Project, low graduation rates aren’t the problem. Instead they are simply a symptom of the problem. The current education system is not designed for every child to succeed, they assert. Instead, the educational opportunities of young people are threatened by policies that set them up to fail.
Both “zero tolerance” and “high-stakes testing” have been pinpointed as the two policies that pose the most direct threat to American youth’s educational opportunities. Together they turn schools into hostile and alienating environments and as a result, huge numbers of students are treated as if they are disposable, routinely being pushed out of school and toward the juvenile and criminal justice systems.
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