Teachers Unite and DSC-NY Member Writes About Restorative Justice in Schools

No Tolerance for Zero-Tolerance: Developing Restorative Alternatives



Usually a multi-piece series of articles should be published close together, but I have definitely made people wait — in anticipation, I’m sure — for the next part of my series about what I stand for as an educator. I apologize for the five-week delay, and though I know excuses are overrated, I have at least been working on some pretty interesting things.

A small collective of organizers kicked off the New Teacher Underground series that I wrote about a few months back when the idea was still a newborn. Also, as Hilary Lustick wrote last week on GothamSchools, the Grassroots Education Movement held an initial meeting to plan the creation of a campaign against high-stakes testing, which we are hoping to launch in the fall. We were also preparing for the Save Our Schools March on Washington and national conference, which I attended last weekend. And I have been attending a weekly reading group sponsored by Teachers Unite about restorative justice, a theory of community-building that encourages all communities to take a restorative, rather than punitive, approach to how we respond to harm. Within a school setting, restorative justice frameworks start by helping students and teachers develop a stronger sense of community so that discipline concerns become less common to begin with, but it also provide transformative alternatives to traditional punishments like suspension and detention that do little to help students think through how their actions affect the larger community.