Schools are often filled with conflict – among students and adults, between students and adults, and between teachers and administration. In the classroom these conflicts manifest in disciplinary moments that detract from a teacher’s primary duty: to teach. In fact those who quit teaching often state discipline as the number one barrier to staying in the profession. In the midst of daily challenges such as physical fights, the use of profanity, or the overall refusal to follow directions, practitioners and policymakers have opted to use zero tolerance discipline policies, even though suspension and expulsion rarely get to the root of the problem. Nonetheless, according to a study commissioned by the Council of State Governments Justice Center, of all one million 7th grade students in Texas, an alarming sixty percent had been suspended or expelled at least once.
Moreover, students of color are more likely than their White counterparts to be suspended or expelled, often for similar offenses -- a phenomenon that has been called the "discipline gap." Students who have been pushed out of schools are more likely to drop out and enter the criminal justice system, creating a pipeline of disenfranchised individuals. This disproportionality is mirrored in the criminal justice system in the US, which leads the world in the highest amount of incarcerated individuals. Our current punitive model of justice often excludes the victims of harm from expressing what they need to make things right. Restorative justice practices such as circles allow people who commit harm to sit with those they have harmed to come up with an agreement to repair the harm, as much as is possible.
RESTORATIVE JUSTICE: AN ALTERNATIVE TO ZERO TOLERANCE
We are a diverse coalition of educators, students, researchers, academics, parents, clinicians, lawyers, advocates, and detention officers who are committed to breaking the school to prison pipeline through creative, community driven models of restorative justice. We seek solutions that will strengthen communities, keep people accountable for their actions, and reintegrate those who have harmed society. We are an organization for resource sharing and meeting other like minded people who want to implement restorative practices. If you want to attend our monthly meetings, please e-mail and put the words "SUBSCRIBE" in the body of the e-mail to be added to the listserv.
WHO WE ARE