Restoring Community

photo by Sarah Rice for EdWeek

EdWeek has published the first in a four-part series of articles by Nirvi Shah called "Rethinking Discipline."

The introduction to the series notes: "Zero-tolerance policies, which require out-of-school suspension or expulsion for certain inappropriate behaviors, have become the go-to disciplinary approach in many schools. But research suggests some downsides: Such punishments may not change students’ behavior and are often meted out unfairly. This article is the first in a four-part series exploring alternative approaches."

In this first piece the focus is on restorative practices. City Springs Elementary School, which has worked closely with IIRP, features prominently in the article, and IIRP trainer Mary Jo Hebling is quoted:

"Over time, the students seen in the office stop coming. My hope is that the issues will not be something that we have to deal with ever again," said Ms. Richetta, the principal at City Springs, a charter school that serves students in its surrounding neighborhood.

Her school has used the restorative-practices approach for about five years.

The school, where most students come from low-income families and most are African-American, has cut its suspension numbers by about three-quarters in the last few years, Ms. Richetta said, but reshaping students' behavior is still a work in progress. Her school still suspends students on occasion, she pointed out, although their behavior is still discussed and its origins understood.

A calmer school environment takes time, and results may not be immediately apparent, said Mary Jo Hebling, who trains people in restorative practices at the International Institute for Restorative Practices in Bethlehem, Pa., where City Springs' staff members and hundreds of other educators were trained in recent years.

Read the full article: Education Week: 'Restorative Practices': Discipline But Different.