An alternative to suspension and expulsion: 'Circle up!'
from the story by Eric Westervelt on NPR:
Oakland Unified, one of California's largest districts, has been a national leader in expanding restorative justice. The district is one-third African-American and more than 70 percent low-income. The program was expanded after a federal civil rights agreement in 2012 to reduce school discipline inequity for African-American students.
At Edna Brewer Middle School, the fact that students are taking the lead — that so many want to be part of this effort — shows that it's starting to take root.
"Instead of throwing a punch, they're asking for a circle, they're backing off and asking to mediate it peacefully with words," says Ta-Biti Gibson, the school's restorative justice co-director. "And that's a great thing."
Call for more restorative justice plans
A restorative programme to help develop conflict resolution skills in west Tallaght in Dublin should be rolled out to all schools in Ireland, former governor of Mountjoy Prison John Lonergan has said.
At the launch of a report evaluating the Restorative Practice Programme of the Childhood Development Initiative, Mr Lonergan said inter-community relationships “are at the very heart of the quality of life that people have”.
An Outcome Evaluation of Minnesota Circles of Support and Accountability (MnCoSA)
....The use of the COSA model with high-risk sex offenders began in a small Mennonite community in Canada in the early 1990s. Grounded in the tenets of the restorative justice philosophy, the COSA model attempts to help sex offenders successfully reenter http://www.doc.state.mn.us/publications/documents/9-12MnCOSAResearchinBrief.pdfthe community and, thus, increase public safety, by providing them with social support as they try to meet their employment, housing, treatment, and other social needs. Each COSA consists of anywhere between four and six community volunteers, one of whom is a primary volunteer, who meet with the offender on a regular basis. The results from several evaluations of the Canadian COSA model suggest it significantly reduces sex offender recidivism....
Restorative justice: the evolution of an issue
....It was 2007 when I was first asked about doing an issue on restorative justice by our author, Sandra Pavelka. Although I was potentially interested, two things kept this issue from happening more quickly: First, I felt like the literature surrounding restorative justice needed to have a stronger research-base; and, second, restorative justice was a concept and approach I struggled to fully understand. There are so many types of interventions that fall under the rubric of “restorative justice” that seeing the connections was difficult for me.
Restorative Approaches Implementation Pack for schools
from the website of Restorative Justice 4 Schools:
We have seen so many schools wishing to develop a restorative approach re-invent so many of the same documents that we decided to produce a restorative approaches school implementation pack that we hope may support and guide you through this whole process.
Restorative justice community/classroom conferencing: A guide for parents and teachers
It may seem surprising, but many children and youth often misbehave, not because they are trying to harm or disrupt the well-being of others or because they are “bad kids,” but because they are simply trying to meet a personal need, albeit in a negative way. “Children’s behaviours are determined, for the most part, by how they feel about the current state of their physical and psychosocial needs.”
Nova Scotia spends $500K on 'restorative justice' bullying program in schools
from the article by Kris Sims in Sun News:
Nova Scotia is spending $500,000 to expand anti-bullying campaigns in schools, hoping "restorative justice" methods modelled after native sentencing circles can curb the problem in the province.
"Students will largely avoid the stigma of being 'sent to the office' or being suspended. We should not underestimate the negative side-effects of a child's experience at school if that experience involves multiple trips to the principal's office or suspensions from school," reads a government handout on the approach.
'Restorative practices': Discipline but different
At City Springs and many other schools across the country, restorative practices are about holding students accountable and getting them to right a wrong. The approach is getting more notice than ever as criticism grows of zero-tolerance disciplinary policies that often require out-of-school suspension and expulsion. Educators are turning to restorative practices, peer courts in middle and high schools, and related efforts in the hopes of changing students' bad behaviors rather than simply kicking them out of school as punishment and risking disconnecting them from school altogether.
"It's about building relationships and having [students] do what you want them to do because they want to do it—not because they're afraid of what the consequences are," said Rhonda Richetta, the principal of City Springs, which has 624 students. "We really want kids to change."
Center for Restorative Activism
Here are some basic principles that help to frame what restorative activism is about:
The historical moment calls on us to identify and focus on root causes. I believe the historical moment boils down to a choice between continuation with the life-denying worldview based on separateness, and a life affirming worldview based on the direct experience of interrelatedness. The belief in separateness can be singled out as a root cause of the crises we face and this shows us what we are really up against.
Parent-to-parent guide: Restorative justice in Chicago Public Schools
from the booklet by the Parents of POWER-PAC:
For too many of our children, “school discipline” has meant getting suspended or expelled—starting as young as kindergarten—being arrested, even in grade school—and ending up on the streets or in jail— without an education.
We are Chicago Public School parents, from many different neighborhoods and backgrounds, raising kids of all ages. We work together in POWER-PAC, and built our “Elementary Justice Campaign: Stopping the School-to-Prison Pipeline” because we’ve felt at times that school discipline works against—not with—our children and families.