At last summer's IIRP Summer Symposium: Turning the Tide (August 2011), I heard a lot about the problems of No Child Left Behind and how schools might be creating positive environments and making tangible changes but still be deemed failing by the standards of current law which relies upon the results of standardized testing alone.
Here's a lengthy piece from Mother Jones about one school in San Francisco that seems to fit into this category. It has a high population of Latino students, who don't necessarily fare well on standardized tests. And yet the school clearly has a caring principal and enthusiastic teachers. Maria, the main student profiled in the piece, flourishes there.
Nowhere in the article is the phrase restorative practices mentioned, but clearly the people in the school have done something to foster a warm atmosphere with positive relationships. This quote stuck out at me:
"I have seen about 20 rounds of classroom reform in my teaching career," Roth [a teacher in the school] told me recently. "You know what I haven't seen? Serious dialogue with teachers, students, and parents. They can identify successful teaching, but they are rarely a part of the discussion."
Those kinds of discussions and inclusiveness of all the stakeholders fit neatly in the basic restorative premise of doing things "with" people, rather "to" them or "for" them.
The full 4-page piece can be found here: "Everything You've Heard About Failing Schools Is Wrong" by Kristina Rizga.