Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Sally Lee on Resorative Justice

This comment from Sally deserves a post of its own. I was arguing in my original post that the contract is the only way to solidify and codify things so the current and future DOE can't as easily shirk issues like discipline. The Dignity in Schools Campaign is asking for full-time Restorative Justice Coordinators in 20 schools -- do you think this might be more useful that the money spend on PD? Guess what Carmen, do all the PD in the world. If there is no system of control in the schools it is like spitting in the wind. And let's look at it this way -- PD is not only about curriculum. It is about how a teacher can deal with a class beyond curriculum - and how to deal with some kids who are having difficulty in that environment. So let's look at a Restorative Justice coordinator as a variation of PD.

Sally Lee has left a new comment on your post "UFT Contract - What's Missing - How About Discipl...":
Thanks for the shout-out Norm! Just so your readers are clear: Teachers Unite is the only educator organization in the Dignity in Schools Campaign-New York (DSC-NY).

The DSC-NY, a youth-led coalition, has been meeting with DOE to discuss the need to mandate guidance interventions before suspensions, provide trainings to staff, and end suspensions for defying or disobeying authority—a minor misbehavior that is the second most common reason for suspensions and, as you can imagine, results in an alarming disproportionate punishment of Black and Latino students as well as those with disabilities.

TU’s presence in those meetings has been consistent, but always in a supporting role to young people of color. Dozens of our members, all UFT members, have participated in the campaign’s planning as well as the campaign’s discussions with DOE and UFT staff. I say this to be clear that “Sally and the gang” doesn’t really sum it up! I actually have never been to these meetings with officials, not only because I like to rush home to my young sons at the end of the day, but because it’s important that UFT members are the ones voicing their support of DSC-NY demands—and imploring UFT staff, who are accountable to the membership, to come around on this issue as an authentic ally to the youth who are most impacted by the racial injustice of policing and harsh punishment.

Also, there is a campaign demand that is particularly close to Teachers Unite’s heart for the very reasons you mention in your post. DSC-NY is calling on the DOE to fully fund and support implementation of the following five key elements of school-wide restorative practices starting at 20 schools this September:

1. A Full-time Position of Restorative Coordinator, with the sole focus of coordinating a positive, restorative climate and approach to discipline at the school, including overseeing implementation of the other four key elements below (in the case of campus schools where multiple small schools share the same building, the budget should allow for one coordinator per school, not one per campus).

2. A School-wide Strategic Plan with participation of all school stakeholders that integrates pre-existing behavior-related strategies, such as Fairness Committees, conflict resolution, peer mediation and peer mentoring, into a restorative framework and set of values, and integrates that framework into existing school structures, such as advisory periods, town hall meetings, after school programs, and School Leadership Teams.

3. Ongoing Training for All Stakeholders, including faculty, counselors and other school employees, School Safety Agents, and a core group of student and parent leaders who can develop the skills to train their peers.

4. Youth and Parent Leadership in the process of planning and implementing restorative practices in school, such as forming Student Leadership Councils, engaging students and parents to be a part of trainings for school staff, and engaging students in producing videos, skits, posters and other materials to promote restorative approaches among their peers.

5. Systematic Collection and Monitoring of Data in collaboration with administrators, faculty, students and parents to develop a common set of indicators and protocols for collecting data to help understand the implementation and results of restorative practices in the pilot schools.

You can read more about how we outline this kind of whole school support, and examples of it in action, in our case study found here: http://www.dignityinschools.org/files/DSC-NY_CaseStudy_2013.pdf

We are promoting and supporting the philosophy and practice of restorative justice school by school, because we know while it’s important to have support for these shifts come from the top—nothing’s going to work unless the rank-and-file educators, parents and students are making changes from the ground up. I invite your readers who are UFT members to join us at TU in order to augment the voices of educators speaking out against the damaging and racist impact of punitive discipline policies.

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