Last week I presented a paper* on "Plato, Political Affect, and Lullabies"** at a wonderful conference at CUNY. One key point is Plato's claim that habits of transgression formed from repeated petty misdeeds can ripple up to bad effect in a polity (788b-c). In the plus ça change category, I read this AP story on "zero tolerance" school policies in the morning paper. Some key grafs:
Zero tolerance traces its philosophical roots to the "broken windows" theory of policing, which argues that if petty crime is held in check, more serious crime and disorder are prevented.[***]
So it's no accident that students are often harshly punished over relatively minor misbehavior, said Russell Skiba, a zero tolerance expert at Indiana University's Center for Evaluation and Education Policy.
"We've seen literally thousands of these kinds of episodes of zero tolerance since the early 1990s," said Skiba, who co-authored a 2006 study for the American Psychological Association that concluded zero tolerance has not improved school security.
In the Pennsylvania case, Guarna, a former police officer, said she was summoned to her daughter's school last month and told that 5-year-old Madison had talked about shooting her pink bubble gun.
The kindergartener was initially suspended for 10 days and ordered to undergo a psychological evaluation, according to documents supplied by Guarna's attorney. The suspension was later reduced to two days, and the incident was reclassified as "threat to harm others."
Foucault would have loved the detail in which the little girl was ordered to undergo a psychological evaluation.
*Power Point here.
**Early draft here at New APPS with exchanges between Eric and myself that help define the issues.
*** A critique of "broken windows" theory here.