Professional Educators of Tennessee (PET) announces their support for the recently-introduced Student Self-Defense Bill (Senate Bill 113/House Bill 860). PET, a non-partisan teacher association headquartered in Franklin, Tennessee, believes the proposed legislation brings common sense back into the zero-tolerance debate that has tied the hands of principals, schools and local school districts across the state.
Many school districts across the nation have implemented "Zero Tolerance" fighting policies. What this means varies from locality to locality, but it generally involves severe punishments for anyone involved in fighting, without regard to any details of the case. In practice, this means that those who attack others and those who defend themselves are punished equally.
Senator Reginald Tate and Representative Terri Lynn Weaver have done their constituents, education stakeholders, and students across the state a favor by having the foresight to champion this issue. The notion that Zero Tolerance decreases fighting is not necessarily correct. Many times these policies actually enable predators to attack innocent students. Bullies usually do not care about getting punished –innocent students normally have more respect for the school's policies and rules.
Tennessee schools must be safe and secure, as well as a places of learning. “We have been pleased to work with Senator Tate and Representative Weaver on this needed legislation,” said Tim Brinegar, director of Government Relations for Professional Educators of Tennessee. “We believe Senate Bill 113/House Bill 860 is a positive step for administrators and students alike. We encourage members of the 108th General Assembly to support and pass this thoughtful legislation.”