Federal government push for restorative justice puts teachers at risk

There has been a lot of talk over the years about injustice and inequity in our schools by Obama, his former education secretary Arne Duncan, and his current secretary, John B. King, Jr. In fact, the latter’s photo ends to head the recent USA Today article, “Black students are 4 times more likely to be suspended”, with the addition, “The head of education cites a ‘systemic failure’.

That statement is supported by 2014 data from the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights such as:

  • Black preschoolers account for 18% of the enrollment, but 48% of preschoolers receive more than one out-of-school suspension.
  • 5% of white students are suspended vs. 16% of black students, a rate of three, not four times more likely, as it is titled.
  • 12% of black girls are suspended vs. 2% of white girls.
  • While black students make up 16% of the total, 27% of them were referred to the police and 31% of them were subjected to school-related arrests. Whites represent 51% of the enrollment, 41% of them referred to law enforcement and 39% were arrested.

In light of such reported discrimination, the Obama administration and the US Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights have partnered and notified schools that they should increase data collection on “unequal treatment in schools.” and take care of your ongoing responsibilities.

Results reports Education week: Civil rights complaints have erupted during the Obama reign. In fact, in 1990, under the supervision of President HW Bush, 3,384 complaints of this type were received and 3,130 were processed. Under the current administration, those figures amount to 9,950 received and 10,128 processed.

However, says Michael J. Petrilli, president of the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, “I think this has been a very aggressive OCR. [Office of Civil Rights], and I do not say it with admiration … Especially on the subject of school discipline, they have gotten into the daily routine of the schools in a way that is not about promoting the civil rights of students, but about promoting some rules prescriptive rules on school discipline. I don’t think it’s an appropriate federal role. “

That overreach includes replacing traditional disciplinary actions with the practice known as restorative justice, a program based on “respect, responsibility, relationship building and relationship repair” with these three main steps:

  1. Circles in the classroom in which the teacher and the affected parties come together to work things out.
  2. The intervention follows with practices such as mediation and family / group circles to talk about the event and the resulting harm.
  3. Reentry is the final stage for those who have been suspended, expelled, absent, or incarcerated, with the goal, as in Oakland schools, of “a comprehensive support group.”

Needless to say, it has its advocates, including the recently resigned Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. In a 2014 speech at Howard University, he said: “Young people are now taking control of the environment. It is counterintuitive for many of us adults, but the more we relinquish power, the more we empower young people. the rest”. things are often better. And empower teens to be part of the solution, making them control the [classroom] environment, control the culture, be the leaders, listen to them, respect them; When we do that, wonderful things happen for children in communities that did not happen historically. “

Not surprisingly, that same year, he and then-US Attorney General Eric Holder sent schools what is called a “Dear Colleague Letter” that reads, “School discipline policies could be considered unfair. if they have a disproportionate impact on students of certain racial or ethnic groups. ” even if those policies were not written with a deliberate discriminatory intent. “

One result, Paul Sperry of the Washington Post reports, is the San Francisco-based Pacific Education Group, which has been paid millions by numerous districts to present workshops designed to “achieve racial justice in our schools.” Here is a descriptor he discovered for one of his restorative justice workshops: “Institutions are infested with symbolic people of color and racist whites who defend white supremacy, generating a survivor mentality among those who encounter micro-disavowals, assaults and daily assaults. in hostile environments. Through a historical overview, learn about the oppressive system known as the American Education System, a school system that was never designed for children of color. “

No wonder, then, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s “Suspension Reduction Plan”, according to which, for example, you can’t remove a bully from a classroom except in the worst cases, and then, only with the consent of a district supervisor. Then there’s the 32-page New York City Public Schools discipline code that reminds educators that “every reasonable effort must be made to correct student behavior through … restorative practices.”

The result? Just as Duncan promised, children are in control in many of our schools, so much so that Kevin Ahern, president of the Syracuse Teachers Association, wrote to the Syracuse Post-Standard saying, “There is a systemic inability to manage and enforce consistent consequences for violent and highly disruptive behaviors that put students and staff at risk and make quality instruction impossible.”

In fact, it seems that today, children are no longer suspended for fighting, drugs, disrespectful behavior, not even after threatening to stab a teacher. It got so bad that on April 6 New York Post article entitled “Now You Are Racist If You Say Schools Should Be Safer” and with a paragraph that reads: “Under pressure from Obama’s Educrats, public school districts no longer suspend even violent students, but now, under pressure from Black Lives Matter, they are suspending teachers who complain about not suspending bad kids. “

Do you need proof that teachers are in danger? Here is a sample:

  • Theo Olson, a St. Paul teacher, was branded a racist by Black Lives Matter for saying that lack of discipline disrupts education.
  • New York City just endured the most violent school year in its history.
  • Carrie Giesler, a teacher from Colorado, was fired for contacting police after receiving death threats from a 13-year-old girl who allegedly punched her in the ribs and broke her thumb. He is currently suing the Thompson School District for its reliance on restorative justice.
  • A New York State United Teachers Union survey of 830 Syracuse teachers found that more than 33% reported being assaulted at least once in the classroom.
  • According to a 2015 National Center for Education Statistics report, 6% of all public school teachers have been physically assaulted, the highest rate in the agency’s history.

It’s no wonder, then, that the American Psychological Association calls this trend “a silent national crisis” and advises schools to be prepared to replace the countless teachers who are leaving “prematurely.”

So now, maybe, just maybe, the next time you read a headline like “Suspension and Expulsion Rates in DC Schools Continue to Drop, According to Report” by Perry Stein, you’ll think twice about clapping your hands. .

Oh yes, the evidence for that report was compiled by the Center for Reinventing Public Education …

Did you hear enough?

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