School discipline is a hot button issue these days. Many teachers and administrators struggle to find an effective form of discipline. Some schools are unable to find any form of discipline at all. In lieu of effective discipline, many schools have resorted to suspensions and expulsions. But according to a new study, there is another way: Restorative Justice.
What is restorative justice?
Restorative justice is a strategy that has been around for a while. It prioritizes mediation between parties as opposed to punishment. Basically, the guilty party must accept responsibility and make amends.
A study by the non-partisan, non-profit group, Rand Corp has found that schools that used restorative justice in their discipline strategies were able to reduce suspension rates and improve school climate:
- Implementation of restorative practices through PERC improved overall school climates, as rated by teachers.
- Implementation of restorative practices reduced the average suspension rate: During the study period, average suspension rates decreased in both PERC and non-PERC schools, but rates decreased more in PERC schools.
- Suspension rates of African American students and of those from low-income families also went down in PERC schools, shrinking the disparities in suspension rates between African American and white students and between low- and higher-income students.
This comes on the heels of Betsy DeVos’s attempt to eliminate the Obama era school discipline guidance which protected students of color from excessive discipline especially suspensions and expulsions. This study is in direct contrast to the narrative used to justify this elimination.
The study didn’t really find evidence of academic improvement that correlated to the practices.
Read the full study here.