California Educator

April 2016

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I N A N E F F O R T to stem high suspension and expulsion rates, California schools in recent years have been moving away from zero-tolerance policies to address student behavior and toward restorative justice approaches. e result: a marked decrease in suspensions and expul- sions, as noted in a new CTA study. e reason given for the majority of suspensions and expulsions, according to the California Department of Education, is "willful defi- ance," an arguably biased determination. e numbers of suspensions and expulsions are disproportionately represented by Hispanic/Latino and African American students. Suspensions and expulsions have been shown to make students 10 times more likely to drop out of high school, fail academically and be incarcerated. Restorative justice practices are a win-win, helping to keep students in school and keep schools and classrooms safe and peaceful. W H AT I S R E S TO R AT I V E J U S T I C E ? Restorative justice is based on respect, responsibility, relation- ship-building and relationship-repairing. It focuses on mediation and agreement, versus punishment. It empowers students to resolve con- flicts on their own and in small groups. Over the past eight years, and especially since the passage of AB 420 in 2013, restorative justice practices have been implemented in Califor- nia schools — notably at Cole Middle School in Oakland, where student and school improvement was so striking that its program served as a model for others throughout the state. But as math teacher and Santa Barbara Teachers Association member Kathleen Glenn said in our May 2013 cover story on suspension, "ere's no one-size-fits-all approach" with restorative justice methods. To engage educators in critical conversations about the most effective ways to create restorative schools, CTA, in partnership with Restorative Schools Vision Project, e California Endowment, and Restorative Justice for Oakland Youth, will present several regional con- venings that will explore best practices for implementing restorative justice in schools. (Please note: ese are discussions, not trainings.) See box at right. To get more information and register to attend, write to: A Positive Approach to Discipline How educators can help change school culture Regional convenings will be held in: • Northern California — Saturday, May 7, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., CTA State Headquarters, 1705 Murchison Drive, Burlingame. • Central California — Saturday, May 14, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., McLane High School, 2727 N. Cedar Ave., Fresno. • Southern California — Saturday, May 21, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., UTLA Head- quarters, 3303 Wilshire Blvd., Room 815, Los Angeles. Closing the discipline gap Through a grant from The California Endow- ment, CTA will host a forum, "Closing the School Discipline Gap," on Friday, May 13, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., at the CTA Region II office, 4100 Truxel Road, Sacramento. In addition to best practices, this forum will focus on how educators, administrators, parents and communities can change school culture through the Local Control Account- ability Plan (LCAP), and how CTA chapters can get involved. For information, write to: Fix School Discipline from Public Counsel offers a toolkit for educators with a step-by-step guide to work together to change harsh discipline rules. See RESTORATIVE JUSTICE Students participate in a restorative justice circle at Natomas Middle School in Sacramento. Photo courtesy Restorative Schools Vision Project. 42

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