Sunday, January 10, 2016

Restorative Justice And Other Questionable Programs Make All Of Us Unsafe In Our Schools.





















When Bill de Blasio became Mayor, he brought with him many ideas that progressives wanted to see in the New York City schools.  One of them was how to change the student discipline code that would give students a second and even a third chance to mend their ways.  This has resulted in a drastic reduction of student suspensions by 17%.  While I do understand that minor infractions like student lateness, cursing, and failure to have school books or writing instruments should result in a stern lecture and a call to the parent, the fact is, that more serious student infractions are being treated the same way.  For example, student insubordination, repeated cellphone usage in class, and disruptive misbehavior are being treated as if these are minor infractions rather than the more serious infractions that they are.  Worse, student threats and intimidation to staff are being treated as if they're minor infractions as well.

One of the main programs that schools are being pressured to use to cut down on student suspensions is the "flavor of the day", restorative justice method.  This program is a mediation program that takes the student offender into a circle of school staff, including teachers,administrators, and guidance counselors and try to explore the causes of the student's misbehavior.  In theory, restorative justice would allow the student to realize that his or her behavioral problems can be addressed and the student comes out of this mediation circle a more compliant student.

 Unfortunately, what sounds good in theory, does not work in the real world of the New York City schools.  I have personally been involved in three such restorative justice sessions during my travels as an ATR.  In two of the three cases, the students told their friends that what a joke it was.  In both cases the two boys had been deliberately insubordinate to their teachers.   In the third, a girl threatened her teacher and despite the teacher's report (she was not part of the circle or even attended) the girl claimed she was having a bad day and was sorry.  Did it help?  Nope!  The last day I was at the school the same girl throw her book at a para who tried to discipline her in another class.

Now the New York Post has an article about how a group of 37 schools that go one step further and hand out warning cards (remember the movie Demolition Man?) for violations rather than real punishment.  The result is staff morale is dropping and the school climate feels increasingly unsafe.  However, since school grades are based on suspensions, school administrations are happy to limit school suspensions if their school grades improves.  What about student and staff safety?  That is not as important as getting a better school report from the DOE.

Some of our union caucuses (Unity and MORE) support these programs and maybe with a limited subset of minor infractions the restorative justice method may work but for the most part it just makes the New York City schools unsafe for students and staff.

53 comments:

SPED4LYFE said...

I had one of these early in the year. An AP, 2 guidance counselors, the mother, the student and me the teacher. I documented the atrocious behavior of the student and read them aloud to all. Everyone was shocked and appalled at the students behavior. Once the AP and the counselors started responding, I saw the writing on the wall and I blankly stared at the wall. The AP, the counselors and even the mother don't have to do the "grunt" work of dealing with the manipulative, lying, sociopathic teenager whose only objective is to disrupt the learning process. So they all patted each other on the back and said the problems were solved to both me and the crocodile tear stained face delinquent. Problems still exist to this day as the child is incorrigible. Plus the hallways in the school are the worst I've ever seen them with kids flagrantly on their phones and completely disrespectful and dismissive toward simple staff requests. The fish stinks at the head (Red Billy) and the social justice caucus wants more of this?!?!? That's going to be a tough sell to those experiencing the results of restorative justice.

Anonymous said...

A friend texted me last week that a thuggish kid lit a joint in the class he was covering and was smoking it. He said he asked him to put it out. The kid refused and my friend said 'listen if you don't, I'll get in trouble.' Fortunately the kid put it out. His school has no deans, security is on the main floor, and administration that blames teachers for everything the students do. This kind of crap is happening all over the city.

Anonymous said...

No one knows anything about MORE or their presidential candidate. Everyone who's voting is voting for Portelos. Teachers are fed up and want a fighter for help, not pie in the sky social justice for thugs who are making our lives miserable.

Anonymous said...

Leftism naively believes that all people are good at their core, that they want to be good and only misbehave due to white privilege, and that talking can solve any problem. When it is presented this bluntly, Leftists deny this is their position, but when you wade through all the edu-speak, social justice fog and psycho-babble, this is what it all boils down to.

My first two years in the DOE were in the South Bronx. Nothing could prepare for the misbehavior I witnessed hourly. Every single class was a circus of thrown books, papers out the window, walking around, room invasions, non-stop talking and pushing and shoving.

I had one Bloods student, who otherwise liked me, threaten to stab me one day. The dean happened to be there and saw the whole thing. He was suspended for a month, and then there was a meeting with him, the gang-member parents and the hear-no-evil AP. Incredibly, the AP asked me in front of him and the parents if I had any objection to him being put back in my classroom.

I was livid inside, but immediately saw the lay of the land. I said, "No problem." I had to wait a year to find another school, but I will never forget that all cultures are NOT equal. I didn't go to a stellar school as a kid, but I never had a class even approaching the level of chaos I saw every single day. Now we just 'talk out' the problems? We are doomed.

Anonymous said...

Chaz, I saw first hand how school administrators use the restorative justice farce to send the disruptive student right back to the class and the teacher felt so helpless as she watched this student enter her class with a big smile on his face and continue to disrupt the class without consequences.

The teacher told me and others told us she will try to transfer to a better school.

Anonymous said...

Sometimes (even often), I'm happy to be a wandering ATR. Even on a "provisional placement" I have nothing to lose by saying "I'm afraid to be in a room/school with the student".

15 months and counting...

Guiermo

Anonymous said...

Could care less! Now it's just about the money. 6 figure salary, then tack on the per session and 6th class. 135K. The kids can bring anything they like to the school as long as I'm making my 135K.

James Eterno said...

Where is your evidence that MORE, or Unity for that matter, supports warning cards for students?

MORE is for empowering teachers to help each school decide its safety policy.

Are you calling for zero tolerance discipline to be the law of the land in every school? If so, come out and say it. Let's have the debate.

The author of this blog worked with me on an SLT for years and knows full well that a zero tolerance program can get a school in big trouble but does not stop incidents from occurring. Suspension was used for even minor offenses for a time and all it did was put our school on Tweed's radar. For years, we've heard so many reports of schools covering up incidents so saying kids getting away with misbehavior is something new is wrong. Kids have gotten away with a great deal for a long time. There is a middle ground out there. MORE is calling for teacher empowerment on the safety issue. One of the biggest supporters of MORE is Stronger Together, the statewide opposition to Michael Mulgrew's Unity Caucus.

My wife and I along with others from MORE went to the Stronger Together Conference out on Long Island yesterday. There are great teacher unionists from around the state who are fed up with what Michael Mulgrew and Unity Caucus have done to our union and our profession. They support MORE strongly because we all want to empower teachers and safeguard our rights.

Bronx ATR said...

Restorative justice is absurd for all schools. It assumes an underlying sense of respect, civility and maturity. By maturity, I'm referring to simply caring about the decision. This assumption simply isn't present with much of the student population in inner city schools. Many want it because it works in the suburbs. This ignores the profound difference in student population. (Pushing all kids into college, regardless of readiness, does the same thing.) Its a disservice to all constituancies - the students, teachers, administrators and society. What happens when these students entire society? Anger, because they can't pass an introductory college class or find a job ; anger, because they have never been told what to do and take offense at every directive give by any authority figure (employer, cop, or military supervisor). Anger that all to often leads to jail, the hospital or the graveyard. That is Restorative Justice.

Anonymous said...

To the anti-MORE and the anti-LEFT people here: The way to fix the unsafe environment is not to punish kids for being born into poor neighborhoods. This is what get tough zero tolerance policies did over the last few decades. The solutions need to be applied at the level of the community in which the school is located. This is the reason behind social justice approaches. Of course, students need to be disciplined, but when they witness violence and the inhumanity of man to man on a large scale in their youth they will not be happy little campers in school. So long as the social inequalities are not dealt with fully the behaviors in low income schools will not be soluble except through repression.

Chaz said...

James:

You are fortunate that you have never traveled to the many schools and see how teachers feel unsupported by school admin. They use the restorative justice program as an excuse to push disruptive students back into the class to make learning almost impossible.

Sure, I remember that our school's zero tolerance policy put us on the DOE radar because they wanted the campus to make small schools but we had peaceful hallways and our lock out room was a success. Many of us enjoyed the relatively peaceful classroom since many of these disruptive students stopped attending school or were suspended.

Would I rather have a safe and secure environment with a zero tolerance student discipline policy or a school where students and staff feel unsafe? I know where I stand on the restorative justice issue and that is it does not work!

DD said...

Look at the Post today. 7 bags of marijuana, no punishment. We need to bombard the chancellor and Mulgrew with emails saying we are walking out, we are fearful to be at work. Inmates run the asylum. Alert the media. Report every incident in writing, forward to Susan Edelman at the Post. Our students are the future rapists and murderers, but no punishment.

Anonymous said...

Anon 4:00,
You need a dose of reality. Get placed at a Bronx high school. You may get assaulted, harrassed or terminated because of the permissive policies you are expounding. Wait and see if this mayor takes out metal detectors - your whole philosophy will change.

Boris said...

I agree with DD, except one thing...They arent out future rapists and murderers, they are our current criminals being protected by the 4 walls of a school building. Only people being punished are the teachers having to deal with this trash.

Anonymous said...

601. I teach in the Bronx currently. I have plenty of reality. Nowhere did I advocate permissiveness.

Norm said...

I dare the chancellor and mulgrew to go to these schools unannounced, let them watch the mayhem. Then compare it to OORS violations actually put into the computer.

Bobby said...

Its all a scam. These people are jokes. They all want to make it look pretty, lets restore not punish. They cant get it into theirs heads that some people are just bad.

Chaz said...

Norm:

How right you are. I remember that the Principal at Hillcrest High School refused to allow his staff to report incidences and the DOE rewarded his school with a blue ribbon.

Norm said...

Academic fraud. Faliure to report violations. Lets make it public. Is that cause for termination?

John said...

It's all liberal BS. Afraid to say that African American teens are out of control, have no positive parent influence, are completely ok to depend on govt assistance and know there are no consequences which leads to no respect. And the fact that 16 year olds are popping babies out one after another makes it a million times worse.

Seve said...

Let's be clear, there is no discipline code anymore. It was bad when we just gave them free grades. Do no work all year and we will give you a 65 anyway. No you have actual criminal violations, assaults, drugs being ignored. We need to start filing lawsuits for hostile work environments that the UFT and Doe are allowing and assisting.

Anonymous said...

8:56,
Restorative justice is enabling the stereotypes you've mentioned. Your statements and restorative justice are racist.

John said...

Statements are fact. Look at the schools that close, look at who commits the crime, look at attendance, look at grades, look at any factual stat, most problems are caused by certain people. Look at who is on the news every day raping, killing, shooting, stabbing, stealing, mugging...Only someone like de Blasio would ignore facts.

Jordan said...

Wake up people. There is no learning in 90% of schools. Any ATR can tell you that as they visit schools. Its play time, party time, be on the phone all day time. But you know the saying, we cant suspend everybody. So, we have conformed to the rulebreakers instead of making them conform to rules. Thats why society is upside down.

Anonymous said...

This is not a liberal thing. I’m very liberal and this is garbage. I wish I could write the things students get away with in my school... no one would believe it. My students are not dangerous, but we have a lot of spoiled kids (their economic status doesn’t matter, they are spoiled). They don’t like the word no and when they hear it, they act out in interesting ways. They should be suspended, but NOTHING happens to them.

QueensSpedTeach said...

If anyone has any information on Duch please let me know! He is the one making decisions at Richmond hill now!

Dean said...

Is anybody watching the news, see the 5 gang rapists from Bed Stuy? All teens, wonder, if they hadnt been arrested, what Brookyn HS they would be in today. What pieces of garbage. And they would be in school today knowing they could get away with the old "slap on the wrist, you are good boys, we will give you another chance." Wow, as a teacher I never knew I would have to rub elbows with lowlife, teenage, rapists, but they would listen to me when I tell them to put their cell phone away.

Anonymous said...

Dad,
Here's an idea for Sue Edleman - look at the academic record of those teenagers who raped a 14 year old girl who was walking with her father. How many times have they been suspended? What do their teachers have to say about the them? What are their grades? I think it might be enlightening for the mayor, Mulgrew and those who tout restorative justice.

Anonymous said...

As a guidance counselor I can weigh in and state that although the city wants to implement restorative justice in the schools. they still have not figured out a way to get guidance counselors into the schools to properly run the program of restorative justice!! I have seen teachers running the program stressed out because they have so many other chores to complete as teachers but because the school does not have a guidance counselor they have teachers running the program!! Lastest call is approx. 400 guidance counselors in excess playing the ATR role of rotating from school to school!!! Another great idea but not correctly implemented.

Bob said...

Just think, those rapists would have been in one of the public high schools today, sitting in your class, telling you to shut the fuck up when you tell them to put the cell phone away. Then your AP would tell you that you have no classroom management.

Anonymous said...

JOHN 9:48...You are so ignorant and racist! Of course only Blacks commit crimes! Your comment does not deserve a response, but you represent many so I say to your racist ass, go to hell! Whites commit plenty of crimes. Just check out areas where there are few minorities and see who are committing the crimes in those areas. Fool! you people (ignorant racists) make me sick.

Chaz said...

QueensSpedTeacher

Why do you think Richmond Hill's suspensions went down significantly in the last year? He is the mentor Principal there.

Anonymous said...

The system is OUT OF CONTROL and I'm LOVING EVERY MINUTE of it. Remember friends, "There is opportunity in chaos". My W-2 is off the meter.

Johnny said...

One of the quartet has a prior arrest for attempted murder, with a bat. Another has a prior arrest for robbery. Well, I guess the DOE is wrong, previous criminals will repeat behavior. But dont punish students for anything....

AB said...

Farina today announced 70% graduation rate today. Isnt that amazing. How is it that FDNY HS in Thomas Jefferson has 3% College Ready but a 74% Grad rate. Hmm.

Anonymous said...

5:30's got it right. Ignore all the BS and take as much advantage as possible.

Anonymous said...

As far as the five rapist teens are concerned, I guess their racist teachers didn't differentiate enough. Perhaps more rigor in their lessons would have elevated their grades and made them rise to the challenge of Common Core aligned lesson. OR maybe they just needed some scaffolding or more turn and talk.

I ask you fellow teachers, what strategies did you fail to implement? Did you doze off in your QTEL or WITsi trainings? Did you not read Teach Like a Champion? Inequality exists because we are all failures in the classroom. Isn't that what the reformers, both Left and Right tell us? We must do better. More rigor! Start tomorrow - it's never too late to save our scholars from the school to prison pipeline!

TeachmyclassMrMayor(andyoutooMrMulgrew) said...

The number of suspensions go against the school in its QR. On top of reworking the discipline code, and principals not allowing suspensions, it has gotten insane. You will never come close to a true accounting.

Mulgrew & Co. are useless. Tweed is full of criminals (I still laugh that the DOE is in a building named for Boss Tweed and all that represents), and thanks to Bloomberg and the current administration, it only gets worse. You have principals more worried about if their name is on the heading of test than actually supporting their staff, and grade changes and phony diplomas being given out in the name of "college and career readiness", the suspension numbers are just as fake.

Anonymous said...

ATR is a great idea?

Anonymous said...

anonymous 5:30

You can't hide bitch, get to your bbq. We know, you're too good to be unsatisfactory... you made yourself irreplaceable....your AP loves you....

Anonymous said...

So Chaz regarding the Friedrich case we received an alert email from Mulgrew and a few lines in it kind of got to me. Did you read it? If the unions lose can NYC and the DOE have new pay rates, hours working etc for teachers? This is true? No negotiations anymore? People hate the UFT and the union and are now about to really feel it yes

Anonymous said...

I taught at the same school as QueensSped Teacher Richmond Hill High School. I remember that in the 2013-2014 school year we had the highest number of suspensions out of all the schools in all five boroughs. The following year we had almost no suspensions but the kids were just as horribly behaved as all the prior, years.

During the 2013-2014 one kid whose a Latin King threatened to kill me. (This kid had a long history of behavior problems and threatening his teacher both before and after this incident.) I of course don't take threats lightly so I went down to the precinct and filed a police report. I had absolutely nothing to worry about as I did nothing wrong or untowered to provoke the student's remark. Nevertheless the kid was not suspended or even disciplined. The incident was never documented or written up on the administrations end.

Infact, I filed a PERB complaint due to the fact that I was wrongfully discontinued. At my pre-conference my discontinuing principal Neil Ganesh lies before the arbitrator stating that there was an investigation against me and they found me at fault and not the kid.

Anonymous said...

http://nypost.com/2016/01/12/teen-charged-in-brooklyn-assault-allowed-back-in-school/

Another charming misunderstood student

Anonymous said...

Brooklyn, NY - A teenaged high school student who is free on bail after being charged in a New Year’s Eve assault and robbery that left a 55-year-old man needing 70 stitches has returned to Midwood High School in Brooklyn without any notification to teachers or students by school administrators.
NYPOST.com (http://nyp.st/1Rz1oq9) reports that 17 year-old Eldin Sabovic was charged with stealing the victim’s cell phone and wallet in the year-end stick-up while his 19-year-old accomplice beat the man, leaving him with a massive forehead gash.
A Midwood HS source reported that at least one student said her parents would have held her out of school had they known Sabovic was roaming the halls.
Greg Floyd, who heads up the Teamsters union that represents school safety officers, said, “This is wrong. This student should be taught in an alternative setting, not mingling with students at Midwood HS.”

Anonymous said...

This mayor is a disaster. I keep thinking I'm back in 1990. Everyone is walking around with guns, cops aren't doing anything, schools are out of control, packs of criminals, lots of homelessness, the economy is in the toilet and everything is wonderful.

Anonymous said...

I wish I had become a sanitation worker. Way better. I knew it but my mom talked me out of it. My friend went in with no college and makes more than me after 18 years.

Anonymous said...

I have had several students over the year with parole officers! One for assaulting a man with a brick and almost killing him on the street, and this (overage) "kid" was in tenth grade!

Anonymous said...

If anybody actually thinks that this case is for real then you are not living in the same world as the rest of us. This is a sham of major proportions. You mean to tell me that these jerk off teachers in california are that upset about paying $52 a pay check to protect their jobs and families??? You mean to tell me that these california teachers are upset that the union is a political pawn in the dirty game of politics where unions stick up for their members??? This is bull shit people and its big bull shit. This is communism and we the people are just taking it. The jerk offs who are running this case in california are backed by the kock bros. who seem to be the devil here on earth. The koch brothers are funding this bull shit court case to the supreme level as they have this hatred for the american worker. The same american workers who break their ass daily at walmart stores for their jerk off owners to rake in the money and then go after other hard working people and try to destroy their lives. This is communism people and the only reason people like the koch bros are relevant is because the have a few dollars and in america this seems to go a long way as any living human being now will sell out their soul for the all mighty dollar.

Anonymous said...

waiting in line at a bodega today students all over the store instead of class..one student yelled out that it was mad cold today....mad cold?? omg help please

Anonymous said...

And if kids trash the room the janitor isn't rated ineffective under Danielson.

Chaz said...

The ODE and Admins turn a blind eye and ignore the many issues these students have. Dysfunctional communities, unsafe communities, negative peer pressure, and educational neglict. Yet they want to hold teachers accountable as if we control 100% of a child's development when it is only 1% to 14% at most.

Anonymous said...

Queens sped teacher let me know how to get in touch and ill tell you what i know about Duch

Anonymous said...

Anon 9:51 I would like for you to share what you know if you are willing to.