Jesus Ibn El was teased incessantly as a youngster. He now works at Berkley's Resolution Center. (Photo: Spencer Whitney/SF Chronicle)

Can Restorative Justice Break the School-to-Prison Pipeline?

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.

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U.N. Study Shows Mistreatment of Black Students Across The Country

The United Nations is weighing in on how black children are treated in schools in America, and their preliminary findings back most studies that indicate that there are a number of barriers that stand between black children and a quality education. While black children deal with societal issues at home, the UN Working Group also found that schools in poor neighborhoods are under-funded. Zero tolerance policies lead to excessive penalization, harassment, out of school suspensions, and expulsion of black children, which feeds the school-to-prison pipeline.

U.S. Army Officer in Afghanistan 2006. (Photo: The U.S. Army / Flickr)

Speaking to High Schoolers About the Truth of War Helped Me Deal with My Trauma from Being a Soldier

Rory Fanning, a military veteran, speaks to high schoolers about the truth of war. If a teenager is going to sign up to kill and die for a cause or even the promise of a better life, then the least he or she should know is the good, the bad and the ugly about the job. Fanning also notes that in a world without a draft, JROTC’s school-to-military pipeline is a lifeline for Washington’s permanent war across the Greater Middle East and parts of Africa. Its unending conflicts are only possible because kids like those he’s talked to in the few classrooms he’s visited continue to volunteer. The politicians and the school boards, time and again, claim their school systems are broke. No money for books, teacher’s salaries and pensions, healthy lunches. And yet, in 2015, the U.S. government spent $598 billion on the military, more than half of its total discretionary budget, and nearly 10 times what it spent on education.

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.

Advancing Racial Justice in 2015: A Weekend of Movement Building in New Orleans.

Advancing Racial Justice in 2015: A Weekend of Movement Building in New Orleans

More than 700 students, parents, teachers, community activists, labor organizers, policy experts, and advocates of a multitude of issues came together Oct. 2-4, 2015 in New Orleans for a weekend of education, collaboration, and engagement. Organized by the Schott Foundation and the American Federation of Teachers, with more than a dozen co-sponsoring local and national organizations, the key theme was community and labor organizing together for racial justice.

Black Girls Matter: Pushed Out, Overpoliced and Underprotected

Girls of color face much harsher school discipline than their white peers but are excluded from current efforts to address the school-to-prison pipeline, according to a report issued by the African American Policy Forum and Columbia Law School’s Center for Intersectionality and Social Policy Studies.

Southern Poverty Law Center calls for the expulsion of police from schools as a measure to stop the unnecessary criminalization of children.

Stop the Abuse of Children in School: Expel the Police

Southern Poverty Law Center calls for the expulsion of police from schools as a measure to stop the unnecessary criminalization of ordinary children. Virtually all of the scholars who study this phenomenon have concluded that the militarization of schools, coupled with the advent of zero tolerance policies, has had a vastly disproportionate impact on children of color and those with disabilities. The results: more dropouts, more poverty, more incarceration, more alienation and despair.

Education law a tool for ending school-to-prison pipeline

Southern Poverty Law Center: The Every Student Succeeds Act, signed by the president last week, didn’t just replace the No Child Left Behind law, it encourages school districts to take a closer look at their discipline practices. This is an important development because suspensions and expulsions not only push children out of the classroom, they can be a student’s first step toward the juvenile justice system.