Photo by Michael Macor for the San Francisco Chronicle. Pictured here is Principal Jacobson of Rosa Parks Elementary with students. He wears a lanyard with IIRP's Restorative Questions card ready for use!Here's a lovely article by Jill Tucker at SFGate.com (home of the San Francisco Chronicle). San Francisco seems to be having a serious discussion in the print media about alternative discipline approaches in schools, in particular restorative practices.

For two decades, Principal Paul Jacobsen was known as a no-nonsense, cut-to-the-chase, hard-nosed school administrator who didn't hesitate to dole out strict punishment when students broke the rules.

Then the San Francisco principal learned about something called the restorative justice approach.

The restorative model, which the school board has encouraged schools to adopt, focuses on getting offenders and victims to talk about their feelings, to address what they were thinking when the incident occurred, and to work together on what could make things "as right as possible."

The first time Jacobsen tried it he saw an immediate positive response. He was also able to identify the causes of the bad behavior, something that wasn't evident when he simply doled out punishment without asking questions.

"It was unbelievable," he said. "The process of taking the time to give students a full opportunity to speak their minds ... was eye-opening."

Not a far-out idea

Jacobsen knows how all that might sound to outsiders.

"I'm not hippie-dippie," the Rosa Parks Elementary School principal said.

It was just that after 20 years in the business, he had learned this: Suspensions and expulsions don't stop rule-breaking students from breaking rules again and again.

"It's not that we've suddenly become lenient," Jacobsen said of the new approach. "We just recognize we aren't going to be able to punish away the problems."

IIRP is mentioned in the article, and as we've noted here, IIRP was involved in doing trainings at Rosa Parks. The story also mentions the recent DOE report regarding inequality nationwide in terms of suspensions and expulsions for minority pupils.

Read more of the article here.

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