Monday, July 18, 2016

Another Example On Why Restorative Justice Does Not Work - John Adams High School.

Since Bill de Blasio became Mayor and appointed Carmen Farina as Chancellor, the New York City Public Schools feel more unsafe.  First, was the elimination of the cellphone ban that has resulted in mass student academic distractions.  Then it was the effects of the more lenient student discipline code that saw suspensions plummet but allowed the school environment deteriorate as misbehaving students were returned back to his or her class to distract the classroom learning process. Finally, the emphasis on "restorative justice" that is a joke to chronically misbehaving students who learn quickly how to play the system and continue to distract other students and reduce teacher authority as they are quickly returned to class.

A case in point is John Adams High School, a "time out" renewal school that has seen their suspension rates drop from 382 in 2011 to 93 this year.  The reason is that many incidents are downgraded or not reported outside the school.  As one teacher said about the reduction of confiscated weapons at the school.

“Of course the number is down — nothing is reported,”

Many staff believe the school is unsafe and there is a report that the entire Science department did not reapply for their positions next year.  Moreover, the Principal is widely disliked as he refuses to take real action against misbehaving students and has even allowed an 18 year old student who allegedly taped a sexual performance by a minor and was arrested by the NYPD who now faces criminal charges, was still allowed to attend graduation with his class.  Susan Edelman's piece goes into further details about the school.  Back in April Chalkbeat also wrote about John Adams High School as well.

Unfortunately, John Adams is not the exception.  There are far too many schools who have unsafe environments, many of them renewal schools like Flushing High School. Not only is social justice crap but is downright dangerous in many of our struggling schools.

To the Mayor, DOE, and the Unity and MORE caucuses of the UFT, you should be concentrating on smaller class sizes, adequate school resources, and school safety not this restorative justice crap that does not work. In only makes schools unsafe.


Anonymous said...

Flushing should be shut down already. End the torture! I'd rather work in Rikers. The admin is completely anti teacher!

Anonymous said...

We just had 3 days of Restorative Circles training. We will be using this next year in our school. All teachers are expected to do it. The trainer explained that it is based on American Indian discussion circles where the peace pipe was passed around and only the person holding it could speak. She explained it is a time for us to tell our inner fears, hopes and dreams.

We did a lot of emoting, there were teachers crying, we put tokens in the middle of the circle that represented who we were. We discussed our memories, times we felt injustice, times we were hurt. We wove ourselves together symbolically with yarn. We did as we were told and the trainer was happy. Three days passed and then it was done.

I shudder to think how much trouble we will get in when our students talk about how they were raped, attempted suicide, were molested, etc, and we are unlicensed in social work and psychology.

Anonymous said...

The peace pipe should be a bong. Teachers crying - pathetic. Their teenage angst consists of not being able to force that freshman into oral sex and filming it. Wake the FUCK up!

Anonymous said...

Your post is disturbing on many levels. It describes an incredibly naive approach to dealing with discipline and assumes a basic level of civility and respect from students that simply isn't there, unfortunately, for many students. That teachers would actually cry while doing these exercises is evidence of a sensitivity that is indicative of perceived weakness (that will be taken full advantage of by the increasing number of incorrigible students that inhabit many of our schools). This Restorative nonsense won't work in society or in schools. Schools are a microcosm of society and they should have rules and consequences that make sense. This will hurt students, staff, schools, society and ultimately the student. Your are correct about the major potential problems of stirring up emotions that staff doesn't have the training or credentials to deal with. A teacher, in another state a couple of years ago, used hypnotherapy to help his students. Feelings and emotions that were long buried were brought to the surface and three of his students committed suicide. I wouldn't have anything to with this if you can avoid it. The UFT should not allow its members to have anything to do with it. This policy has been in place for a year with virtually no training of staffs and a certain mindset has been established. This was, is and will be a disaster.

DOEvet said...

Hello all,

I think restorative practices work if the school culture supports it. There has to be a level of buy-in from teachers, students, parents, and admin. This won't happen in schools without the buy-in.

I have over 20 yrs of experience with conflict mediation involving hundreds of cases. The model I use is not a "talking circle", it is a more typical mediation with usually only myself and the 2 students involved. I sometimes include others as needed. It starts with a goal of solving a problem and ends with a formal solution. Works close to 100%. Would this work everywhere, with every kid? No. Can it work in a lot of places with a lot of kids? Yes.

Participants have to trust and believe in the process. The mediator has to be a trusted and neutral person. Is this something any interested, thoughtful, motivated person can learn? Yes.

I've participated in various talking circles. These are more like group therapy. We don't do this at our school. Could I, with 20 plus years of experience, blithely use this model, which can involve a room full of people? No, not easily. Is it possible? Yes, but time intensive and would take a lot of preliminary work.

Would all kinds of things come out in a talking circle? Most likely. Things come out in smaller and one on one conversations too. But easier to deal with than in a large group.

Will staff struggle to perform this circle with students who have mental illness, who lie, who don't buy in, who are in gangs, in cases where there is no real back-up from admin, no real consequences for refusal to create a real solution? Yes for sure.

I have read that the DOE is not paying for any training or devoting any resources to this, which will make it even harder.

I can do a few cases a week, usually after school. What happens in a school that has 50 cases a week?

So, I do believe in the value of this type of intervention, but the problems can be very, very real, and I do see how this can look like a bad joke in some places.

The deeper problem is, what do thoughtful adults in schools do with the really damaged, angry, disturbed kids? With suspensions off the table, transfers off the table, training off the table, there are not many options at all.

Another reason why it is so hard to work in a renewal school or with a really tough population. One would think, working with a tough population, teachers would be given more support, more resources - but in fact everyone who works with this gets punished and blamed for it, and it seems more about surviving the day, week, month, year is the goal.

I don't work in these types of schools for this reason and I feel for those who are trying hard to make it work!

Anonymous said...

What a fkn joke...! This is all playpen management for , basically , lifelong wards of the State. Yet no mention of 75 %(at least) out of wedlock births in Af. American Welfare State demographic. Teachers are patsies for this situation...u r supposed to be teaching an academic subject...not this nonsense...! Even with all of these accommodations...there is more hatred of Whitey now than the 60s...!

Anonymous said...

I said the same thing on another blog and was called a racists, bigot and a bad teacher. Even the intelligent ed notes guy tried to blame me for kids cursing me out and misbehaving. He must be working for forina

Anonymous said...

I think Restorative circles are a waste of time and nothing more than emotional candy for female teachers. Most men are not effeminate and do not need to emote their feelings to feel better. To bring this in a classroom setting is nothing more than new age emotional manipulation.

We are teaching reading and writing, etc - not emotional coping skills. Let the guidance counselor do it if they want, but don't make rank and file teachers do this very uncomfortable stuff.

Anonymous said...

@ 11:48...Yes, I know...these are ideologues who can't handle they shut u down when u mention some facts,..