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EDUCATION WATCH : Reward Is a Safe School

At first, it seemed as though “Zero Tolerance” was doomed before it even began. That’s the program under which Antelope Valley high school students can receive a nominal reward of $25 for tips leading to the arrest of their peers on drug charges or for bringing weapons to school.

A Ventura County school district had tried a similar program, for quadruple the reward offered in the Antelope Valley, and it had failed. Moreover, Antelope Valley students seemed to scoff at the idea of leaving themselves vulnerable to retaliation for a mere $25.

Some teachers claimed that the program was morally flawed because money destroyed its “ethical nature.” We hope that none of those teachers are charged with keeping students abreast of current events in the news. A quick perusal of crime-fighting efforts around the nation would highlight many, many programs that encourage adults to come forward and report crimes with the carrot-and-stick approach of monetary rewards.

Now, many of the protests have cooled for one simple reason. Zero Tolerance has resulted in the arrests of 38 students in just two months. More than half were for drug possession or dealing. The students’ tips also led to the confiscation of five handguns at the five campuses in the Antelope Valley Union High School District. The most recent involved a student who was trying to sell a pistol at school.

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We think it means that Zero Tolerance is making the district a bit safer for students who come to school for one purpose: to learn.


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