American culture has a strongly held model of Individualism, which has challenged our progress when it comes to closing stubborn racial equity gaps in school discipline. The Individualism model assumes that bad teachers, undisciplined students, inattentive parents are the sole responsibility for inequities in discipline. This model often leads to blaming and inevitably to fatalism that nothing will move the needle.
However, supportive discipline models like Restorative Justice - when implemented with fidelity - are proving that systemic approaches are succeeding in breaking through disparities, while recognizing there are very few bad actors and a great deal of shared interest in the success of our children.
In Lawrence, it is common knowledge that a black student is twice as likely to be suspended his/her white peers. A single suspension in high school doubles the risk of dropping out, and dropping out triples the risk of future incarceration. This is a problem we can address systemically together.
Restorative justice programs in schools are spreading across they country. As an approach to school discipline and student-teacher relationships,it focuses on healing harm instead of simply dispensing consequences. It's been shown to reduce suspensions and improve academic outcomes for student s of color. It's a real alternative to the status quo.
For this reason, we are bringing together educators, administrators, and elected School Board Members to attend the Lawrence Restorative Justice Summit on April 10, 2019.