"restorative discipline", "restorative practices", "School to jail track", Clover Park School District, Covid, D/S/C goals, Denver schools, disparate impact, fleeing public schools, Gwinnett County Public Schools, racism, School Discipline, Tip O'Neill, woke
I’ve long written about one of the everlasting D/S/C goals: eliminating discipline in America’s schools, particularly discipline for black students. I last wrote on the topic in June of 2021 in Dana Nessel and School Discipline: Not Anywhere. In that article, I included links to nine previous articles dating back to 2013.
Before we get into today’s article, there are a few things we must review. In schools where there is ineffective discipline, there is little learning. In schools where there is no discipline, there is no learning. In that article, I noted:
Keep in mind, please, the law requires reasonable disciplinary policies, and every school has a published disciplinary policy, which lists the consequences of disciplinary infractions. A student refusing to stop talking might find themselves in lunch detention or after school detention for a day or two. A student who disrupts a class to the point it can’t continue will normally be removed for that period, and will face more time in detention. A student who is a constant disruption may find themselves in in-school suspension for days or weeks, depending on the severity of the offense and their past disciplinary record. Kids caught fighting, assaulting others or dealing/using drugs are generally suspended for some period. And in rational schools, kids attacking teachers are not only prosecuted, but suspended from school for a year.
All of this is not only realistic, and non-race based, but absolutely necessary. Before any student is expelled, there will, by law and of necessity, be a long string of previously, serious disciplinary offenses, and normally, offenses that make clear that student is a clear and present danger to the school. If a teacher can’t demand kids at least be quiet and pretend to pay attention, no learning can take place. If they have to worry about being attacked, school is nothing more than a juvenile prison where the inmates are in control and can come and go at will—and they are and do.
Unfortunately, many school districts, hopelessly woke, have all but abandoned discipline, and in so doing, have abandoned safety for students and staff, and ultimately, learning. An example from Georgia:
Gwinnett County Public Schools has long faced scrutiny over equity in discipline. The issue has led to lawsuits, rallies and the formation of civic groups. It’s been a major element of campaign platforms.
Data presented at a recent school board meeting shows that Black students face a larger share of discipline than the overall student body.
‘The goal is to have zero disproportionality,’ Superintendent Calvin Watts said. That won’t be possible immediately, but he said the district is working on that goal along with reducing the number of incidents.
Watts is talking about “disparate impact,” which is a cover for racism. In other words, if black students are 20% of the student body, if they account for more than 20% of overall discipline, the only possible cause can be racism. The rate at which they commit disciplinary infractions is not relevant, and even bringing up that factor is evidence of systemic racism. Facts, such as black students commit disciplinary infractions and crimes at rates far exceeding their numbers in school populations, are irrelevant and further evidence of racism.
This academic year, 5.7% of Black high schoolers have received out-of-school suspension versus 2.2% of their white classmates. Among all high school students, 3.9% have been suspended out of school.
Across all grade levels, the percentage of Black students who faced discipline is higher than any other racial or ethnic group, according to a recent school board presentation.
How is it in such an obviously woke school district, the social justice warriors in charge are utterly unable to eliminate such horrific racism?
‘We have students in our school system who have experienced injustices,’ Board Chair Tarece Johnson said. She said understanding root causes of the incidents would help with developing alternative interventions to discipline.
Students should ‘feel they have another chance if they make a mistake,’ she said.
As I noted, unless the school district’s disciplinary policies are incompetent and illegal, they have more—much more–than “another chance.” And notice there is no accounting for those “injustices,” no specifics. Let’s visit Washington State:
A Washington school board butted heads over a new student discipline policy that considers a student’s race before deciding on a punishment.
The Clover Park School District debated its new “culturally responsive” student discipline policy. It means student discipline would not be consistent based on conduct. Instead, a school considers a student’s race and background. It would likely offer harsher punishments to white students, even if the conduct is identical to that of a Black or Hispanic student.
The disparate treatment is championed in the name of inclusion. But it’s not just a Clover Park School District controversy.
The culturally responsive policy impacts every Washington school district after Democrats passed a law institutionalizing critical race theory in student discipline.
Read the rest of the article, where you’ll find the new policies are not intended to ensure equal discipline for similar offenses, but equity: preferred outcomes, which actively and illegally discriminate against white students. This article from Real Clear Investigations, introduces “restorative practices,” a euphemism for “restorative discipline”:
This alternative method of discipline, called ‘restorative practices,’ is spreading across the country – and being put to the test. Many schools are enduring sharp increases in violence following the return of students from COVID lockdowns, making this softer approach a higher-stakes experiment in student safety.
‘Kids are getting into more fights and disturbances because they are struggling,’ says Yoli Anyon, a professor of social work at San Jose State University. ‘So schools are relying on restorative practices as a way to help young people transition back to the classroom.’
Long pushed by racial justice groups, the method aims to curb suspensions and arrests that disproportionately affect students of color. It replaces punishment with discussions about the causes and harmful impact of misbehavior, from sassing teachers and smoking pot to fighting (serious offenses like gun possession are still referred to the police). The hope is that students, through apologizing and making amends, will learn from their misdeeds and form healthier relationships with peers and teachers, making school violence less likely as they continue their education.
And how is this working?
Denver, which pioneered restorative practices more than a decade ago and inspired districts to follow its lead, seems a good place to ask: Is the kinder approach working? Yes and no, and often the answer depends on the eye of the beholder. Suspensions have fallen significantly, in keeping with the intent of the changed discipline policy. But fighting and other serious incidents have not meaningfully declined, the district says. Other cities have reported similar outcomes, according to evaluations and school leaders.
It’s simple, really. Announce you’re going to implement “restorative discipline,” and your discipline statistics dramatically change. Particularly where black criminals in schools are concerned, the number of their crimes magically decreases to almost nothing. Therefore, “restorative discipline” is working! You’re amazing educational innovators, shoe-ins for superintendent’s jobs! Of course, when disruptive and criminal kids learn they’ll face no consequences for their crimes—the police will virtually never be called, and resource officers will be kicked out–the actual crime rate skyrockets, teachers and students live in fear, drugs are dealt, kids are extorted and robbed, assaults are common, classes are constantly disrupted and no learning takes place. Take the link and read the rest of the article, which labors to present the positive side of “restorative practices,” and to the sane reader, badly fails.
In my mid-sized Texas high school, I was blessed with a principal who believed his first and most important job was to maintain discipline, and in so doing maintain an appropriate educational atmosphere. In other words, adults were in charge, and students were expected, with no exceptions, to adhere to a published code of conduct. Not only must they be polite and show deference to teachers and other staff, they were not allowed to be disruptive in any way. Crimes were reported with virtually no exceptions, and a school resource officer had an office in the building. Fighting meant immediate suspension. Assaulting a teacher was an automatic suspension for a year. If a teacher sent a student to the office because they were being disruptive, they were not returned to the classroom that period and always faced discipline. As a result, kids had the maximum possible educational opportunities.
Sadly, finally growing tired of the looming insanity, he retired, and the principal that replaced him let discipline slide. That, combined with Covid, convinced me it was time to end my second career. I would not have survived another year.
This, gentle readers, is just another matter about which parents must be acutely aware. This sort of thing is more common in blue cities and states, to be sure, but American education is predominantly D/S/C oriented, so no one can be complacent. It’s a reminder, as former Speaker Of The House Tip O’Neill said: “all politics is local.”
I am not an uncritical proponent of fleeing the public schools. They are not entirely lost, and in many places, they’re the best bet. However, in schools so caught up in woke doctrine common sense and reality are defenestrated, it may be the only choice, particularly if the involved school boards are immune to sanity.