And yesterday’s L.A. Times article by Sandy Banks tells a story, of how Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) is handling a new initiative called ‘restorative justice’ which is a concept to make student discipline less punitive and more productive by issuing less suspensions and offering students alternatives. Under the new program students are asked to sit in a circle and talk about their behavior that got them in trouble, allowing them to vent and hear themselves speak without being interrupted or dis-respected by others.
However many teachers, administrators, and others say it is slow to take hold. Part of the problem is less than half of district employees have been trained to participate in the program, and more classrooms have had higher instances of unruly students requiring campus security and police officers to be called to classrooms to deal with students.
LAUSD Superintendent, Ramon Cortines said ‘I don’t think we provided the proper support and monitoring’ for the program. And I agree! As a long time educator within the public school system ‘I see school systems roll out programs with inadequate preparation’ and they don’t reach the goals they set out to accomplish.
When dealing with student behavior schools/districts must engage parents/guardians in the training, along with school staff. Why? Because student discipline must be supported and re-enforced at home in order to get desired results. Parents and guardians of school aged children should be required to attend such trainings, and policies regarding such reform measures need to be established.
And finally, until funded independent community based ‘monitoring teams’ are created, inner city public schools will continue to yield results that no one is satisfied with. Too often schools operate as if they are on an island – but they are part of a larger region called a community; made up of parents, guardians, businesses, agencies, institutions, etc., that should be actively engaged in monitoring how its schools are doing? These community members along with school staff could be trained to monitor their schools. What do you think?