Students and Community Push for Restorative Practicesfrom the CNS Press ConferenceStudents and community activists in Philadelphia are not satisfied with the new draft of the school district's discipline code, according to an article the other day in the Notebook, which bills itself as "an independent voice for parents, educators, students and friends of Philadelphia public schools." According to the article, "Students push for changes in District's discipline policy" by Katie McCabe, members of the Campaign for Nonviolent Schools (see this blog post on past actions of this group) and others community groups were given input on the most recent draft of the code. But School Reform Commissioner Lorene Cary agrees the draft does not address student's major concerns. In response to the student feedback, "District officials are now working to write another draft of the code that is more responsive to student feedback."

Further into the article the IIRP and its role in training teachers and administrators in the district is discussed and introduces the concept of the "restorative zone":

The International Institute for Restorative Practices (IIRP), based out of Bethlehem, Pa., also periodically holds trainings for teachers and school leaders in the Philadelphia area. The most recent four-day session was held a few weeks ago. IIRP also has a master’s-level program.

The institute is hopeful that it will be able to restart its restorative justice work at West Philadelphia High School, thanks to a $40,000 grant from the Community Revitalization Program of the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development.

John Bailie, IIRP's director of continuing education programs, wants to build on this work at West Philadelphia High School to create a “West Philadelphia Restorative Zone.”

In such a zone, anyone who works with young people – in families, social service agencies, police, churches, or school – would get training in restorative practices.

IIRP has had success with a similar initiative in Hull, England, the “world’s first restorative city.”

In West Philadelphia, the zone is still in its early planning stages. Initial meetings were held in the spring with stakeholders, including Councilwoman Jannie Blackwell, and the IIRP is now preparing a grant application to support the project’s further development.

Teachers and school leaders who have gone through IIRP training or courses have high hopes for the impact that restorative practices could have if implemented District-wide.

“If the District adopted this, it would be so fantastic,” said Lauren Fischer, a guidance counselor who works at Powel Elementary school and attended IIRP’s most recent workshop in Philadelphia.

The entire story can be found here.

Here, also, is a related release about the press conference during which students and activists presented their concerns.


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