Unexpectedly, the Associated Press (AP) named zero tolerance policies, not Islamophobia, as the reason for Texas teen Ahmed Mohamed’s recent clock-making woes, which echoes exactly what Breitbart Texas first reported in mid-September.
AP’s declaration came over a month after the story broke about the 14-year-old’s arrest and subsequent three-day high school suspension from Irving ISD for bringing in a homemade suitcase clock that resembled a bomb.
“Ahmed’s suspension…reflects the rigid disciplinary policies that many U.S. schools adopted in the 1990s,” AP stated.
Breitbart Texas reported zero tolerance, not Islamophobia or racism, as behind the clockmaker’s arrest and subsequent suspension, also reporting multiple times on the impact of zero tolerance-based policies as the Ahmed Mohamed story unfolded, also illustrating how the Irving teen stood among a long list of other public school students from around the country who inadvertinently terrorized school authorities with poptart guns, Nerf guns, Lego guns, pointed “pow pow” finger guns, a Hello Kitty bubble gun, and even a plastic cap gun, Another Texas teen learned that even doing the right thing can go wrong in zero tolerance times. He got suspended for intervening when bullies roughed up a special needs boy last year.
Still, a relentless liberal media pushed a hard Islamophobia narrative, ignoring these zero tolerance policies and other safe school act measures. AP noted this “led to widespread ridicule of school officials and accusations that Islamophobia may have played a part.”
CNN, Daily Kos, Vox, Slate, and Mother Jones are only a few of many that grabbed their #IStandWithAhmed memes and cried, “Islamophobia.” The Washington Post trashed Irving Mayor Beth Van Duyne for supporting the concept of American laws in American courts. Even Media Matters dismissed this reporter for “blaming the 14-year-old’s problems at school on the Irving ISD Student Code of Conduct.” That handbook, however, sets the rules and regulations for acceptable behavior and is predicated on the 1995 Texas Safe Schools Act and Chapter 37 of the Texas Education Code, which define and address consequences to perceived misbehavior including threats and hoaxes.
The Student Code of Conduct was as pertinent to a Texas 4th grader who school authorities accused of terrorizing other students with a Lord of the Rings pretend magic ring it was to Ahmed Mohamed. At the Sept. 16 press conference after Mohamed’s arrest, Irving school district officials cited the Student Code of Conduct handbook as their guiding resource.
Furthermore, zero tolerance is the backbone of federal “safe schools” and “threat assessment” plans which came in response to Columbine (1999) and later Sandy Hook (2012). The resulting Safe School Initiative, a project of the US Department of Education and the US Secret Service, intended to prevent school shootings. It influenced rigid disciplinary policies, some that started under Title IV of the Clinton administration’s Improving America’s Schools Act of 1994, part of Goals 2000, which later emerged as Democrat Senator Ted Kennedy’s brainchild, No Child Left Behind Act, which was signed into law by President George W. Bush.
Interestingly, AP dropped the term “Islamophobia” from their official style guide in 2012 because of the word’s wrongful implication — tying prejudice to “phobia,” an irrational fear or mental illness. Yet, the Islamophobia narrative lives on.
The news organization folded its zero tolerance revelation into an article on schools seeking alternatives to suspension, opening another can of worms — restorative justice. These mental health based education reform programs like the U.S. Education Department’s Rethinking Discipline, detailed in the Resource Guide for Improving School Climate and Discipline, spawned out of programs like Rethinking Schools from 1960’s radicals Bill Ayers and Bernadine Dorne, introduced in 2000 as an alternative to the school-to-prison pipeline.
Follow Merrill Hope on Twitter @OutOfTheBoxMom.