Richmond Teachers for Social Justice
hosts a community conversation
Discipline practices and disproportionality:
Considering restorative practices
Wednesday, January 13th
5:00pm to 7:00pm
Douglass Freeman High School
8701 Three Chopt Road
A reliance on zero tolerance policies in schools have led to an increasing number of suspensions and expulsions each year and more and more schools are relying on police officers to patrol campus and discipline students. Additionally, data continues to reveal significant disproportionality in the suspension rates of black students in the South, including Virginia. The criminalization of students has lasting negative impacts on educational outcomes and research has shown juvenile incarceration is the strongest predictor of adult incarceration. In some parts of the country, districts have adopted a restorative practices model for discipline and have seen a dramatic decrease in misbehavior, bullying, violence, and crime among students. The hypothesis of restorative practices is that human beings are happier, more cooperative and productive, and more likely to make positive changes in their behavior when those in positions of authority do things with them instead of to them or for them. Restorative practice maintains that punitive and authoritarian modes of discipline are not as effective as a restorative, participatory, engaging model. Restorative practice holds the position that with improved relationships, distrust, implicit bias and cultural misunderstanding may be reduced between teachers and students historically overrepresented in school discipline.
The purpose of this conversation is to provide educators and those interested in education (students, parents, community members) an overview of the basic premise of restorative practices and the opportunity to reflect on how schools and the school systems within the Richmond Region are responding to the current crisis of discipline disproportionality and the school-to-prison-pipeline, and to consider the social justice implications of current school policies and practices.
Questions for discussion:
- What are the experiences of the teachers, parents, and students in the schools with zero tolerance discipline policies?
- How are schools and school systems responding to the problem of disproportionality and the school-to-prison-pipeline at a policy level?
- How might the philosophy of restorative justice and restorative practice look at your school?