Find a better approach

Problem solving is a hot topic in education. But words mean little if they are not backed up by action.

‘Zero tolerance’ has that no-nonsense cachet that makes it a staple among the law-and-order crowd.

Its appeal is in its simplicity, and the belief that compromise means concession.

But there is a danger when it is administered too broadly – something that is particularly relevant in schools.

Last week a policy committee with the Chilliwack School District recommended the district’s drug and alcohol policy remain unchanged, arguing that students need the boundaries set out in its zero tolerance approach – automatic expulsion, with little hope of appeal.

The Chilliwack school board agreed.

All except trustee Barry Neufeld. “This policy is archaic, punitive, and not worthy of a modern education system,”  said Neufeld in a sharply worded critique.

Trustee Neufeld expanded on his point in a letter to The Progress.

And it is worth a read. He argues that the district’s zero tolerance policy risks alienating the very people the school district purportedly hopes to help.

It is an arbitrary and reactionary approach that ignores more imaginative and consultative programs that move beyond simple punishment.

Restorative justice is not a new concept. It’s been around the community for years, and the approach has been implemented in schools throughout North America for even longer.

It begins with the belief that an inclusive and consultative approach can deal with the original offence, while creating an environment where repetition is unlikely.

To be clear, it does not reward harmful or hurtful behavior. It does not suggest that students should be without boundaries, or that drug use and alcohol consumption amongst school kids is okay.

The point is to employ the best practices available to ensure that kids who do cross that line are guided back and not abandoned to the consequences of their mistake.

We can solve the problem at its root so it doesn’t happen again, or kick it down the road and leave others to deal with it.

Problem solving is a hot topic in education. But words mean little if they are not backed up by action.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

The latest data from the BC Centre for Disease Control.
Chilliwack COVID case count drops as Abbotsford’s goes up

The latest BC Centre for Disease Control report shows nothing but hot spots west of Chilliwack

Gabriel Klein sits in the prisoner’s dock during the first day of his trial on Oct. 7 in B.C. Supreme Court in New Westminster. (Sketch by Felicity Don)
Judge to rule on criminal responsibility of man who stabbed Abbotsford students

Gabriel Klein was convicted last year for the murder of 13-year-old Letisha Reimer

Matthew Balogh has been located.
UPDATE: Missing 17-year-old from Abbotsford has been located

Matthew Balogh had last been seen at 10 a.m. on Sunday, April 18

Two ejected from single vehicle crash in Seabird Island

Landing zone for medevac has been requested

(File photo)
Semi truck and car collide on Highway 1 near Popkum

Slow lane eastbound is now closed as crews wait for tow trucks

A large crowd protested against COVID-19 measures at Sunset Beach in Vancouver on Tuesday, April 20, 2021. (Snapchat)
VIDEO: Large, police-patrolled crowds gather at Vancouver beach for COVID protests

Vancouver police said they patrolled the area and monitored all gatherings

FILE – RCMP officers wearing face masks to curb the spread of COVID-19 stand by as protesters opposed to the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion block rail lines, in Burnaby, B.C., on Friday, November 27, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
‘Very scary’: B.C. travel rules too vague, shouldn’t involve police, civil liberties group says

BCCLA said that speaking with communities could have avoided top-down approach

Ocean Legacy Foundation members conduct a shoreline pollution cleanup in Vancouver. (OLP)
It’s time to end ‘suffocating’ plastic pollution along B.C. shorelines, advocates urge

This Earth Day, Ocean Legacy Foundation is launching a free educational platform to educate the public about plastic pollution

A teacher-librarian in Nanaimo was fired in 2019 for checking out an age-inappropriate graphic novel to a student. The discipline agreement was published Wednesday, April 21. (News Bulletin file photo)
B.C. teacher-librarian fired for checking out too-graphic graphic novel to student

Teacher had been previously disciplined and suspended on two occasions

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Former University of Victoria rowing coach Barney Williams is photographed in the stands during the Greater Victoria Invitational at CARSA Performance Gym at the University of Victoria in Victoria, B.C., on Friday, November 29, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Former B.C. university rowing coach ‘deeply sorry’ after complaints

Barney Williams says he’s been committed to ensuring no other member of the roster had a similar experience

Aria Pendak Jefferson cuddles ChiChi, the family cat that ran away two years ago in Ucluelet. The feline was missing until Courtney Johnson and Barry Edge discovered her in the parking lot of the Canadian Princess earlier this month. Aria and her parents were reunited with ChiChi in a parking lot in Port Alberni. (SUSAN QUINN/ Alberni Valley News)
B.C. girl’s wish granted as her cat came back, two years later

Courtenay family reunited with cat that went missing in Ucluelet in 2019

Stu Burgess is operations manager for Golden Ears and Rolley Lake Provincial Parks. (The News files)
Golden Ears park camping to be limited to those in local health region

Fraser Health Authority and Vancouver Coastal Health now considered one region

Thousands have converged in Whonnock Lake Park to enjoy the nice weather. (Roxanne Hooper/The News)
Thousands enjoy B.C. park with warnings about social distancing

Portable toilets installed in anticipation of nice weather

Most Read