We are in the midst of a quiet revolution in school discipline. In the past five years, 27 states have revised their laws with the intention of reducing suspensions and expulsions. And, more than 50 of America’s largest school districts have also reformed their discipline policies — changes which collectively affect more than 6.35 million students.
FreshEd interview with Hakim Williams: Youth violence and the neocolonial system of education in Trinidad
FreshEd with Will Brehm is a weekly podcast that makes complex ideas in educational research easily understood. This December 12 interview explores youth violence in Trinidad with guest Hakim Mohandas Amani Williams. Hakim situates his study of Trinidad within the country’s colonial past. He is also actively creating a new paradigm to address youth violence that blends a systems approach with restorative justice practices.
Last September, Berkeley (CA) Tech Academy Principal Sheila Quintana had no choice but to suspend 10 students after an off-campus brawl was caught on video by neighborhood residents. Quintana knew there had to be a better way to deal with the disciplinary process than to shut the students out of school, which can send them into a cycle of futility: falling behind in class and ultimately dropping out with scarce employment opportunities, elevating the risk of a life of crime and incarceration.
There is a better way. It’s a concept known as restorative justice, in which perpetrators of minor to moderate offenses are brought into an intensive program in which they are led to confront the underlying causes and consequences of their actions.
Ohio school policies for addressing “violent, disruptive or inappropriate behavior” do not sit well with a large segment of the community. Activists argue that under these “zero tolerance policies” children are actually being suspended and expelled for offenses that are nonviolent, often out of their control, and possible to resolve with extra care from school officials. They also attest that children of color are being affected at a greater rate than their counterparts.
Ekundayo Igeleke, the new executive director of the University Area Enrichment Association, oversees the Freedom School, a free K-12 summer program in Columbus, OH. “We focus on restorative justice,” said Igeleke, who will bring in intervention specialists this year. “We never kick a kid out of the program, no matter how bad they are.”
Restorative Practices is taking hold in a number of San Diego Unified schools and its aim is to change the culture on campus by giving students more of a voice in their day-to-day lives at school. Under the districts restorative approach, which was adopted in 2014, educators now have more discretion in whether to suspend or expel students for bad behavior. Depending on each individual case, learning can come from “talking it out” in carefully facilitated circle sessions run by highly trained mediators.
Wilmington’s Movement for a Culture of Peace hosted a community discussion focused on finding ways to deal with issues such as trauma that violent crime in the city is bringing into classrooms. Around 30 educators, activists and concerned community members participated in the event. Among them was Malik Muhammad, president of a restorative practices consulting group. In 2012, the state brought Muhammad’s organization in to hold four full-day workshops for around 145 education professionals. Since then, he’s worked with 16 of 19 Delaware school districts, tailoring workshops to their specific needs.
What if we were to redefine our concept of justice, to rethink it? This is not difficult to envision when it comes to teen petty theft, but in violent offenses it is much more difficult. The goal of restorative justice is a restoration of right relationships, sometimes through restitution, sometimes through talking, and a restoration of community. Perhaps an illustration from Africa would help our nation reformulate ideas of justice. After the genocide in Rwanda and Barundi, many perpetrators of the violence were put in prison. A few years ago, when they were about to be released, the community was worried that the survivors would retaliate—an eye for an eye. That is when the program Healing and Rebuilding our Communities was born.
Partnership with Children works with public schools in New York City’s highest-need communities to provide critical social and emotional supports for the hardest-to-reach youth and to systematically build schools that are safe, successful and conducive to learning. The Restorative Justice Coordinator will work collaboratively to build skills and commitment for the implementation of a restorative justice program in a NYC school.
The public schools “restorative justice” plan and the resettling of refugees in town strengthened New Haven, Connecticut’s “culture of peace” this past year, according to a new report. Compiled by the New Haven Peace Commission, the third annual report — “The State of the Culture of Peace in New Haven” — incorporates anonymous statements from 15 local activists on the ways that the city is improving or stagnating in eight different categories. The conclusion: New Haven is moving toward peace. But slowly.
A report of the Denver School-Based Restorative Practices Partnership. Through interviews and focus groups with staff members at three Denver schools that have successfully implemented restorative practices (RP), four essential strategies for taking this approach school-wide were identified: strong principal vision and commitment to RP; explicit efforts to generate staff buy-in to this conflict resolution approach; continuous and intensive professional development opportunities; and, the allocation of school funds for a full-time coordinator of RP at the site. Additional approaches that supported school-wide implementation of RP are described in the full report.
Free ebook: “Justpeace Ethics: A Guide for Restorative Justice and Peacebuilding” with Foreword by Howard Zehr
“Justpeace Ethics: A Guide for Restorative Justice and Peacebuilding” by Jarem Sawatsky is free as an ebook download for a limited time. From the author: Have you ever wondered how to do conflict transformation, peacemaking or restorative justice work, so that every step of overflows with peace and justice? Drawing on personal interviews with some of the great peace and restorative justice practitioners, through this book you will discover how analysis, intervention, and evaluation of peace and justice activities can be rooted in a justice and peace are inseparable and pursued together.
Students, Parents, Teachers and Advocates Applaud $2.4M Speaker Initiative to Support Restorative Justice in New York City Schools
The Dignity in Schools Campaign – New York (DSC-NY) applauds New York City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito and the New York City Council for keeping their commitment to progressive school discipline reform by ensuring the inclusion of $2.4M in the FY2016 City Budget for the implementation of restorative justice practices in schools.
Massachusetts man who defaced Black Lives Matter sign gets ‘restorative justice,’ not criminal charges
(Original article: Conor Berry, MassLive.com, Dec. 3, 2015) ARLINGTON — Rather than arrest a man for defacing a Black Lives Matter sign displayed at a local church, authorities have come up with a “restorative justice solution,” according to Arlington Police Chief Frederick Ryan. The 23-year-old man, who was not publicly identified by police, allegedly replaced […]
(Original article: Culture of Peace News Network) Excerpts from September and August News Roundups by Restorativeworks.net Detroit Public Schools says crime reports down 29% due to restorative practices. The article notes: “This year, restorative practices training will cover two new areas: trauma and grief counseling to help students dealing with death and other hardships, and […]
- 25th Nov 2015
- #healing #indigenous issues #race & ethnicity #reconciliation #restorative justice
The Global Campaign for Peace Education and the Upstander Project invite you to join us in countering false stories about Thanksgiving with truth telling about the history and current reality of Native peoples in the U.S.. Before you sit down to your big meal on Thursday considering sharing First Light with your family and friends. This 13-minute film can be […]
(Original article by Chad Posick, Juvenile Justice Information Exchange, Nov. 16, 2015) Our society has become one of exclusion. When people mess up we remove them from their communities in a type of exile. We have done this for more than 40 years with prisons. Everyone from low-level offenders to the most violent criminals have been locked […]
(Reposted from: NPR.com, Eric Westervelt, 10-30-15) This week’s viral videos of a Columbia, S.C., deputy’s push-the-chair-over-and-drag-the-student arrest of a 16-year-old high school girl in her classroom has refocused attention on the expanding role of police in schools, “zero tolerance” discipline policies and the disproportionate punishment of minorities. The student in the case was African-American and the […]
David J. Ragland, Ph.D. Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville – Learning, Culture and Society Program(Featured article: Issue #101 January 2013) On December 12, 2012, I visited a good friend and colleague at Leadership and Public Service High School in downtown, Manhattan. You can see the construction of the freedom towers at ground zero from the school’s […]