• Understanding the Zero Tolerance Era School Discipline Net: Net-widening, net-deepening, and the cultural politics of school discipline

      Gastic, Billie; Hill, Marc Lamont; Gilbert, Melissa R.; Jordan, Will J.; Lipman, Pauline, 1944- (Temple University. Libraries, 2009)
      School safety is widely recognized as an ongoing problem in United States public schools. Guided by the New Right, the school safety problem has been framed as an issue of school crime, violence, and student misbehavior that is best mitigated by zero tolerance policies. This stance has emerged as an agenda that has proven disproportionately detrimental to poor urban students of color who have experienced unforeseen levels of punishment since the Gun Free Schools Act of 1994 endorsed zero tolerance. Despite mounting evidence that zero tolerance approaches to discipline do little to deter school crime and violence or make schools safe, little ground has been gained in interrupting the ideology, policies, practices, and discourses of the zero tolerance agenda. The dissertation study theorizes and explores how ideology, cultural-politics, and discourse foster the tendency for policy creation and codification to legitimize the New Right's official knowledge of zero tolerance ideology and policy as a panacea for the school safety problem. To accomplish this, I conducted an ethnographic content analysis of codes of student conduct to examine the imbued ideologies, discourses, and policy changes that emerge from the cultural politics of managing school discipline over the last 15 years. Through this process, I lend empirical credence to the concepts of net-widening and net-deepening. With these guiding concepts, I push the field beyond the zero tolerance discourse on school safety and discipline to establish a generative alternative to understanding school discipline policies called the school discipline net framework. The results of the study establish a precedent for thinking more deeply and creatively about the perils and possibilities of school discipline policies. Major findings include the identification of several school policy changes that make the discipline experience both increasingly likely and potentially more punitive for students. Finally, through substantiating the school discipline net as a framework for discoursing, researching, guiding policy creation, and recognizing and locating sites of agency, this work establishes that it is indeed possible to engage issues critical in the field in ways that can transfer into the highly politicized school policy context dominated by New Right ideologies and discourses.