American Schools Embrace Anarchy and Violence

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – Amid growing concerns that so-called “zero tolerance” policies are backfiring, public schools across the United States are easing their punishment systems and embracing anarchy and violence in the classroom. The new approach—which administrators hope will keep kids in school and off the streets—also seeks to “toughen up” students by exposing them to the “real world.”

Schools in Broward County, Florida are some of the first to experiment with the “no rules” approach. “We tried being strict and doling out draconian punishments,” said Belinda Hope, principal of the Pine Ridge Alternative Learning Center. But Hope explained that when kids get expelled or arrested, they lose time in the classroom. “If they’re going to behave like delinquents, they should at least do it in school, where they can learn a little math and science along the way.”

Studies show that zero tolerance policies—which punish minor offenses with suspension, expulsion or even arrest—have led to “arrest records, low academic achievement and high dropout rates.” In the face of such evidence, many superintendents have decided that punishment should be a thing of past. “We tried punishing these kids, and all it’s done is backfire,” said Los Angeles Unified School District superintendent John Deasy. “Basically, we’ve decided to try the opposite approach and just surrender to anarchy and chaos. Might as well see what happens, you know?”

Schools in Los Angeles under Deasy’s supervision will, by years end, become “grand experiments in hands-off discipline.” “You know how much these kids love ‘The Hunger Games,’” Deasy said. “Well, from now on they’ll be free to act out the whole series, if they so wish.”

Other educators argue that American students, who have fallen behind much of the developed world in math and science aptitude, need to be toughened up. “For too long, American kids have lived sheltered lives inside their safe little schools,” said Bob Kampen, an English teacher in Shreveport, Louisiana. “It’s time they live in the real world, where you might get stabbed or peed on at any moment.”

“If we allow schools to descend into violence-plagued slums, maybe these kids will see why going to college, getting a good job and moving to the suburbs isn’t so bad,” Kampen said. “I bet they’ll start studying their asses off.”