Does Restorative Justice Work Better Than Traditional School Discipline?
What is restorative justice?
How does restorative justice work?
What occurred between the victim and the perpetrator, and why
How the incident made the victim and perpetrator feel
The perpetrator’s intent in causing the incident
Advocacy for reparations from the facilitator(s) and the victim
Discussion of and resolution for a particular form of restitution
Agreement from the perpetrator to make restitution and, in some cases, the victim as well, depending on what conflict led up to the incident at hand
How did restorative justice start?
Do schools practice restorative justice the same way?
Is restorative justice becoming more popular? Who is employing it, and who is advocating for it?
States including California and Maryland have moved to restrict suspension practices. At the district level, so have Miami-Dade and Denver. With schools in these areas no longer able to suspend students for a wide range of infractions, they may turn to restorative justice. This is already the case in Los Angeles and Denver.
The federal government’s 2014 guidelines on school climate demonstrated a growing belief about the importance of school disciplinary systems that are less punitive. Both U.S. Education Secretary John King and Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton have called for dismantling the school-to-prison pipeline.
International use of restorative practices has increased as well.By Suraj Gopal
Why do some support restorative justice?
Generally, proponents of restorative justice argue that practicing it, in some form, brings communities together and reduces racial biases and misconceptions, which advocates say are reflected in school suspension and expulsion rates. Additionally, restorative justice supporters feel that students have a significantly better chance of learning and graduating if they are in class as much as possible.
Even a number of charter schools — some of which have been known for strict disciplinary approaches — have embraced less punitive policies, including restorative justice.By Suraj Gopal
Why are some people skeptical of restorative justice?
Other critics of restorative justice worry about the cost, implementation, and potentially time-consuming nature of implementing these practices.
Finally, some advocates of charter schools argue that suspensions are an important tool for managing student behavior, pointing to large achievement gains for many so-called “no excuses” schools that have strict disciplinary policies.By Suraj Gopal
Is restorative justice working? How do we know?
Lower suspension and expulsion rates
Fewer major disciplinary incidents in school
Less long-term absenteeism
Survey responses indicating improved school climate
Very little research on academic improvement as it relates to schools with restorative practices exists, and the qualitative studies that do are mixed. Marginal gains in GPA have been suggested along with a significant rise in graduation rates. However, these data, along with the school climate, truancy, and discipline metrics, should be read cautiously because of methodological limitations. More research needs to be done to conclude with confidence that restorative justice leads to improvements in school climate and student outcomes.By Suraj Gopal
Is restorative justice expensive?
According to a representative of Teachers Unite — a non-profit that runs workshops in restorative justice for public schools — proper professional development in restorative justice takes significant amounts of time and effort. Additionally, the mediation and restitution process itself generally takes more time to implement than traditional methods.By Suraj Gopal