Contact: Wende Nichols-Julien
CAMPAIGN TO DISMANTLE SCHOOL-TO-PRISON PIPELINE MEETS WITH OBAMA ADVISORS
School-based restorative justice practitioners, students and educators seek collaborative partnerships
WASHINGTON D.C. — Inspired by President Barack Obama’s White House Initiative, My Brother’s Keeper, a coalition of school-based restorative justice practitioners, students, parents, educators, union members and student rights’ attorneys huddled with Obama Administration key advisors about the growing effectiveness of transformative practices to address the phenomenon known as the “school-to-prison pipeline”..
Today the California Conference for Equality and Justice (CCEJ), a Southern California leader in Restorative Justice practices, took part of in the delegation that met with White House officials. The delegation explained how punitive discipline policies are pushing children out of school and into the juvenile justice system. “Restorative Justice is a better solution to dealing with conflicts and it keeps young people in school. It’s a high accountability model that restores and transforms relationships with opportunities to make things right,” said Wende Nichols-Julien, executive director. CCEJ partners with communities and schools to grow cultures which encourage both connection and rigorous accountability. As part of our commitment to intervene in the school-to-prison pipeline, we work with schools and law enforcement organizations to find alternatives to punishment.
“Not a single child is worth throwing away, not one,” said Ali Cooper, a parent advocate and leader of the California Restorative Schools Coalition (CRSC). Cooper organized the historic White House conversation and this meeting was the basis of expanding their original California scope to a national platform. The group seeks to harness Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act funding, from the US Department of Labor, to train displaced workers as restorative practitioners. Recent studies show that students who have been suspended are more likely to be held back a grade or drop out of school entirely.
Schools that adopt Restorative Justice are showing remarkable progress at improving school climate. A recent study by the nonprofit WestEd Justice & Prevention Research Center, “Restorative Justice in U.S. Schools,” found that in 70 percent of cases, teachers’ respect for students improved, and in 75 percent, students’ respect for teachers increased. “A shift away from a culture of punishment and towards a more restorative environment is resulting in improved relationships between and among students and teachers,” analysts from WestEd wrote. The study found that a vast majority, 70 percent, of the participants saw a reduction in suspensions and an improvement in the overall climate at their schools, and almost 60 percent reported increased academic achievement.