(Apparently I didn’t post this on time. I presented on the similar topic at the northwest justice forum two weeks ago. Think about how we discuss and frame the problem.)
I am preparing for a pretty large presentation to OSPI’s student support services. As I am writing my presentation. I came to a pretty simple conclusion.
The Goals: graduate all youth (while on the way close the achievement gap)
The problem: harm in schools – prevents all youth from learning and feeling safe.
The old solution: suspensions and exclusionary policies.
Unintended outcomes: higher rates of dropping out for youth excluded from school. High discipline rates for youth of color.
The new solution: Restorative Justice – building relationships in the face of harm.
Often we think about suspensions as the problem. With that thinking we try to correct suspensions. Yet, suspensions are a response to the problem: harm. When you can look at the problem as “harm” we are able to focus our conversations on how to address harm rather then getting caught up with discussions about how to make suspensions better.