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Zero Tolerance

Conversation Guide

Zero Tolerance is a policy that has been used by schools (and other organizations - police, businesses, the military, etc.) to eradicate unwanted behavior. Zero-tolerance policies establish a pre-set consequence or punishment which is intended to be a deterrent from making an infraction. In thinking about our school systems, is this policy working? In this conversation, we’ll ask you to share stories about your experience with zero-tolerance policies and explore the impact on individual lives and communities.

Let's Get Started!

This Living Room Conversation flows through five rounds of questions and a closing. Some rounds ask you to answer each question. Others feature multiple questions that serve as conversation starters — you need only respond to the one or two you find most interesting.

Before you Begin...

Please go over the Conversation Agreements with your participants.

ONE: Why are we here?

What interested you or drew you to this topic?

TWO: Your core values

Answer one or more of the following:

  • What sense of purpose or duty guides you in life? What is your mission statement?
  • What would your best friend say about who you are and what makes you tick?
  • What are your hopes and concerns for your community and/or the country, now and long-term?
THREE:

Your thoughts and concerns

Remember that the goal of this Living Room Conversation is for each participant to listen to and learn about the different opinions within the group to see where you might share interests, intentions, and goals.

Answer one or more of the following:

  • Have you or someone you know been impacted by a zero-tolerance policy?  What happened?
  • What do you think the long-term effects of zero-tolerance policies are?
  • When is zero-tolerance most effective?
  • What are the alternatives to zero-tolerance policies that would eliminate unwanted behavior?

FOUR: Reflection

Answer one or more of the following:

  • In one sentence, share what was most meaningful or valuable to you in the experience of this Living Room Conversation?
  • What new understanding or common ground did you find within this topic?
  • Has this conversation changed your perception of anyone in this group, including yourself?

FIVE: Accomplishment and moving forward

Answer both of the following questions:

  • Name one important thing that was accomplished here.
  • Is there a next step you would like to take based upon the conversation you just had?

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