TEACHERS: Chaos in the classroom under ‘restorative justice’ student discipline model

Nov 10, 2015 by

LOS ANGELES – The United Teachers Los Angeles union is training teachers in “restorative justice” school discipline procedures in an effort to salvage the relatively new approach to unruly students promoted by the Obama administration.

The move comes amid a flood of complaints from Los Angeles teachers about how “restorative justice” – which focuses on reducing suspensions, particularly for black students – by eliminating “willful defiance” as grounds for removal and replacing it with “talking circles and other methods to build trust,” the Los Angeles Times reports.

According to the news site, suspensions plummeted under the restorative justice model, which was foisted on LA schools and numerous other large urban districts at the behest of the Obama administration.

The goal is to reduce the disproportionate percentage of black students being sent home, and suspensions in Los Angeles went from about 8 percent in 2007-08 to .55 percent last year. But teachers in LA and elsewhere complain their classrooms have devolved into chaos because students understand there’s no real consequences for bad behavior.

“My teachers are at their breaking point,” UTLA school representative Art Lopez wrote in an email to union officials cited by the Times. “Everyone working here is highly aware of how the lack of consequences has affected the site. Teachers with a high number of students with discipline issues are walking a fine line between extreme stress and a (sic) emotional breakdown.”

Eighth-grade math teacher Michael Lam also said the restorative justice methods don’t work, and the situation allows rowdy students to undermine their classmates’ education.

“Where is the justice for the students who want to learn?” he questioned. “I’m afraid our standards are getting lower and lower.”

Even LA Superintendent Ramon Cortines acknowledged restorative justice discipline means some schools are “out of control,” though he blames the problem on implementation of the new approach, which he believes the district bungled.

“There were just a lot of problems,” he said. “I don’t think we provided the proper support for the administration. I don’t think we did proper monitoring.”

Earl Perkins, LA’s assistant superintendent of school operations, said 307 of the district’s 900 schools have received training on restorative justice, but the district only employed five restorative justice counselors last year, but the number was later increased to 25 amid community pressure.

This year, the district added 20 more counselors, for a total added cost of $7.2 million, the Times reports.

Union president Alex Caputo-Pearl told the news site UTLA supports the restorative justice approach, but has received a lot of complaints from teachers who haven’t received training, which convinced the union to start its own training sessions.

The union’s position stands in stark contrast to the Madison Teachers Inc., the Madison, Wisconsin school district’s teachers union, which polled members in May about restorative justice after the district spent $1.6 million on the new Behavior Education Plan.

A staggering 87 percent of Madison teachers believe restorative justice has made student discipline problems worse, the Cap Times reported.

“The MTI board asked the school board to address a number of survey findings, including inadequate consequences for behavior, insufficient numbers of staff to support students with significant behavior needs, insufficient training of staff and instructional time lost to disruptive behavior,” according to the news site.

Data from a 2015 Education Next Poll also confirmed that most teachers, and the public in general, opposes the restorative justice approach promoted by Obama.

Overall, 51 percent of the public opposes “policies that prevent schools from expelling or suspending black and Hispanic students at higher rates than other students,” while a mere 21 percent supported the idea. Twenty-nine percent neither supported nor opposed it.

Among parents, 54 percent opposed, while that figure was nearly 60 percent for teachers. Opposition was even higher among Republicans, at 62 percent, but more Democrats were also in opposition than in support, at 42 percent and 29 percent, respectively.

When broken down by race, 44 percent of Hispanics opposed the federal policies and 31 percent supported them. African Americans were the only demographic showing more support than opposition. Forty-one percent of blacks support Obama’s race-based suspension policy, while 23 percent opposed, according to the data.

Source: TEACHERS: Chaos in the classroom under ‘restorative justice’ student discipline model – EAGnews.org

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.