State Senator: Ticketing Students Is Wrong Way to Discipline
A State Senator from Houston says issuing tickets to misbehaving students actually does more harm than good, and it’s time to find more fair and effective ways to discipline them.
Instead of sending kids to “time out”, or even paddling them, police officers at many school districts are issuing Class C Misdemeanor tickets to young children for such crimes as disrupting class, marking on a wall with pencil, using a cuss word, scuffling on school grounds and misbehaving on a school bus.
State Senator John Whitmire (D-Houston) says this is just wrong. He says it’s forcing thousands of children – many under the age of 10 – into adult criminal court to face fines of up to $500, community service and court costs.Despite evidence that ticketing does almost nothing to change student behavior, the practice is widespread in Texas public schools. One report shows more than 275,000 non-traffic tickets are issued to juveniles in Texas every year – many for low-level misbehavior at school.
Whitmire says this practice must stop because it’s labeling children as “criminals” before they even understand what a criminal is. A New Jersey newspaper writes “Schools should be prepping kids for college, not prison.”
School Boards say they have no choice under the state’s Zero Tolerance Law, which requires equal punishment for every conceivable kind of infraction, major and minor. All 109 thousand school districts in the country are enforcing zero tolerance, and they lose federal funding if they don’t.