2019 Discipline Thinkstock 950614666
What Americans have said

What parents said: How should public schools handle discipline?

In addition to the traditional PDK poll of Americans, PDK convened online focus groups with public school parents and public school teachers, thanks to funding support from the Carnegie Corporation of New York. These comments are drawn from those two groups.

In theory, a zero-tolerance policy is a good idea, but I say “in theory” because I know from experience it doesn't always work. If the star football player gets caught with drugs (which has happened at my daughter's school), he probably isn't going to be suspended. The school pays too much attention to who the offender is, who their family is, what their previous record is, etc. It's not really a fair playing field for all students.

Robin, 49, White mother of high school student in urban Pennsylvania

I feel like the schools don't know how to regulate between being too disciplined or not enough.

Meredith, 38, White mother of three in suburban New Jersey

The school that my daughter is enrolled in is very vigilant with these issues. They go the extra mile to alleviate tensions and problems to keep everyone safe.

Kyle, 33, White father of a 1st grader in upstate New York suburb

Discipline policies in our public schools are too lenient in some areas. Gone are the days of corporal punishment where teachers were able to swat students for bad behavior in the classroom. I'm OK with that, but if a student is being disruptive, teachers need a way of dealing with those students.

Sandy, 54, White mother of one in urban Missouri

School is a place to learn and not somewhere to be concerned about issues like guns, drugs, or abuse. I want our kids to be safe, and those are not safe things they need to deal with.

Albert, 49, Asian father of two sons in suburban California

When it comes to zero policy, an automatic suspension is always a better route versus immediate expulsion. We should give students the chance to explain their actions, learn from their mistakes.

Elizabeth, 36, White mother of two elementary school students in urban North Carolina

Zero tolerance is good, but it unfairly targets minorities. For major things, it’s an OK policy, but it needs to be fixed so it’s fair for all. Restorative justice is a new thing in schools, and I’d like to see how it’s working, but I’ve also heard it’s unfair to minorities.

Autumn, 39, White mother of three elementary school students in suburban Michigan

Zero-tolerance policies can be a good thing But in certain situations those policies or punishment may not fit a specific situation. I can’t really say the zero-tolerance policies are a bad idea, but I can’t totally agree with them.

Leon, 52, Black father of middle schooler in urban Iowa

I consider the administration too lenient, or, more likely, they don't really care. At least that's how they come off. Bullies are not dealt with, kids are numbers, and many kids with mental health issues go unnoticed or are swept under the rug. It seems that it takes multiple infarctions for real discipline to happen.

Deanna, 42, Hispanic mother of two in rural Colorado

Zero tolerance is a good idea, however they need to provide an alternative, maybe referring them to a school that works with students who do these kinds of things. They have a school here for youth who have issues with substance use and abuse. The safety of our students is very important and anything like drugs, weapons, and violence can impact the entire student body.

Frederick, 71, Black grandfather and guardian for his grandson in urban Massachusetts

I am a strong believer in discipline, both by the school and parents. Each have their own responsibilities. If a child misbehaves or is out of control at school, the school should be empowered to enact discipline with appropriate consequences. I remember the days when kids would be marched down to the office and get paddled. Those days are obviously over, but there can be consequences that fit the infraction such as after-school detention and even suspension if merited.

Tim, 69, White father of a 7th-grader in rural Minnesota

School should be a safe place for learning, but it shouldn't be reserved for only the “good” kids. Because some of the not-so-“good” kids need some sort of stability and direction in their lives. If they're removed from school, that might spin them into a worse direction than they are already headed. However, they should face the consequences of their poor decisions in all aspects of their life. We do not need rapists walking among our youth in a school setting — or any setting for that matter.

Lindsey, 41, mixed-race mother of five in Oregon suburb

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