Restoring Community

These articles were formerly posted on our Restorative Works website.

Schools

The Detroit News reports overall crime dropping in schools with restorative practices being implemented district-wide.

Chicago Public Schools, with the mayor's support, open Parent Peace Centers. Watch a video about how a Parent Peace Room has been established in one school.

The Wall Street Journal publishes numerous letters and comments countering Eva Moskowitz's op-ed criticizing the use of restorative justice, and one advocate notes elsewhere that "restorative schools manage to achieve communities of joy, safety and learning."

Further, as the New York City Council proposes "Bills Aimed at Clarity, Improvement Around School Discipline and Support," a writer for the New York Times Parenting Blog looks at the implications of police involvement in school discipline. Also, WNYC radio looks at the positive impact of restorative practices in a Brooklyn School.

In Chattanooga, Tennessee, a National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) town hall meeting looks at how restorative practices can help end the school-to-prison pipeline. (Article and video.)

Two allied events this summer will address the vital issue of school climate reform. Both are designed to help educators seeking answers on how best to engage young people in their education. They will also explore the best ways to address misbehavior, bullying, dropping out and the “racial discipline gap.”

Jonathan CohenNSCC director Dr. Jonathan Cohen: NSCC Summer Institute host, an IIRP Symposium panelist and guest lecturer for the associated IIRP Graduate School hybrid graduate course.

Guidance for educators implementing and assessing school-climate reform

June 25 and 26, the National School Climate Center (NSCC), in partnership with the International Institute for Restorative Practices (IIRP), presents its Summer Institute, School Climate Improvement: Policy, Practice and Leadership Development. What to do and how to do it?

Quaker chaplain Kate Johnson, photo via OurWindsor.caQuaker chaplain Kate Johnson, photo via OurWindsor.ca In an article for the Perth Courier, Desmond Devoy writes:

Kate Johnson is not a member of the Hug-A-Thug Club.

Neither does she want to lock up prisoners and throw away the key.

Ayesha Brooks, Markham Middle School teacher & IIRP graduate studentAyesha Brooks, Markham Middle School teacher & IIRP graduate student

Once, gang fights, suspensions and expulsions were the norm at Markham Middle School; students were dropping out, and there wasn’t much learning going on. With the introduction of restorative practices, a culture change has happened in this school, located in the Watts neighborhood of Los Angeles, California.

“There’s nothing tougher than Watts,” says physical education teacher Ayesha Brooks. “Markham is surrounded by four of the roughest housing projects in L.A., with a high population of gangs coming out of them.”

And, as in many middle schools, Markham had excluding cliques. The girls’ locker room was bullying central. “They would shove the girls into the shower and beat them until they joined the gang. This was a norm,” says Brooks.

On April 22 Pittsburgh Public Schools officials announced their plan to implement the IIRP's SaferSanerSchools Whole-School Change program in 23 schools "to improve learning and reduce suspensions," as reported in Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. "The schools will be part of a research project funded by a $3 million [U.S.] Justice Department grant... ."

During a press conference held at Minadeo PreK-5 in the Squirrel Hill neighborhood, officials focused on how restorative practices can help end the school-to-prison pipeline.

David Hickton, U.S. Attorney for Western Pennsylvania, said, "If we don’t do this, if we only have a hammer, suspended students go from at-risk to drop outs and can quickly wind up on my desk. We need to produce students and graduates rather than defendants and convicts," according to the New Pittsburgh Courier.

The following is a guest post by Anne Martin, Director of Restorative Practices, Shalem Mental Health Network, Ontario, Canada.

 

Thousands of dollars disappear from a congregation’s safe. The Council’s executive informs the police. A police investigation discovers the pastor stole the money. He’s arrested. FaithCARE facilitates restorative conversations for church members to talk about the impact of the situation on them and others. The conversations form the basis of a victim impact statement.

BorbalaFellegi_photoThe IIRP welcomes Borbála Fellegi, Ph.D., who will join the IIRP faculty in July 2015 as lecturer. A resident of Budapest, Hungary, Borbála is a researcher, mediator, conference and peacemaking-circle facilitator, as well as a trainer and lecturer in restorative justice, restorative practices and mediation. She has published widely.

Currently, Borbála provides training and lectures at five universities. Her numerous publications include articles and book chapters, as well as the book Towards Restoration and Peace, a comprehensive study of restorative justice implementation in Hungary.

Dr. Borbála Fellegi, PhD., director of Foresee Research Group, introduces her work exploring the benefits and challenges of conflict resolution processes in a Hungarian village. She will present on her research at the IIRP Europe Conference, "From Dream to Reality: Dawning of the New Social Science" in Budapest, Hungary, June 10-12, 2015. Learn more.

Circle about standardized testsStandardized testing causes stress for many students. But at Buxmont Academy Elementary Program at Pottstown, in Pennsylvania, the staff takes a restorative approach to these tests, which not only reduces students’ anxiety, but can actually integrate standardized testing into a restorative environment.

“The first time we had to administer the PSSAs [Pennsylvania System of School Assessment tests], we just did it, without thinking about it, says Jessica Petrolati, coordinator of Pottstown Elementary. “But the students got so upset! Many of our students have learning difficulties, so the tests just made them feel really bad about themselves. Ever since, we have approached the tests very differently.”

Schools

Photo by Rupert Ganzer at Flickr Creative Commons.Photo by Rupert Ganzer at Flickr Creative Commons.The National School Climate Center's 18th Summer Institute, "Policy, Practice & Leadership Development," takes place June 25-26, 2015 in New York City. Conference participants are eligible to apply their experience toward IIRP graduate credit in RP 540, instructed by Jonathan Cohen, Ph.D., co-founder & President, National School Climate Center and Adjunct Professor of Psychology and Education at Teachers College, Columbia University. This 540 course is also the online portion of the July 20-21, 2015 IIRP Symposium: Integrating School Climate Reform Efforts.

The Community and Restorative Practices Collaborative will host a conference on restorative practices, May 8, 2015, at Lehman College, CUNY, The Bronx, New York, for educators, students, parents, community organizations and agencies. Download the Call for Presenters.

STARS (Students Taking a Right Stand) Nashville has been making a difference with young people, families and communities since it began helping students with drug and alcohol issues in 1984. Today a large nonprofit organization with 80 employees, STARS provides prevention, intervention and treatment services to address bullying, substance abuse and violence in schools, and with youth, families and communities across central Tennessee.

STARS has been incorporating restorative practices into its programs since 2000. “We’ve been committed to these processes since our first training with the IIRP 15 years ago,” says STARS CEO Rodger Dinwiddie, adding, “We’ve seen great success with these practices, with families, schools and community programs.” Long licensed by the IIRP to provide restorative practices training, STARS also sponsors IIRP professional development events in Nashville (including an upcoming Basic Restorative Practices event on April 21-24, 2015).

One STARS initiative involves facilitating formal restorative conferencing circles with juvenile court issues in southwest Tennessee. This has had “really good outcomes,” says Dinwiddie. “Families are seeing a greatly reduced chance for future harm. It’s one of most exciting things we’ve seen.”