Implementing restorative philosophy into Kentucky schools is a cost-effective strategy that promotes emotional resiliency, perspective, responsibility and healing while dealing with the repercussions of conflict. Restorative solutions have gained widespread prevalence in schools for its potential to positively influence human behavior and strengthen civil society. American education and society as a whole have experienced a crisis of:
- Dropout rates
- Other disciplinary problems
- Even mass murders
By implement restorative solutions into school systems, the aim is to introduce and foster restorative principles and practices among staff and students to deal with conflict in school settings, using traditional punishment - such as suspension or expulsion – only as a last resort. As trained stewards of restorative processes, KCRJ staff is dedicated to sharing the successful work of many good people who have laid the foundation.
Numerous studies have emerged with positive implications. From the outset of implementation of restorative programs in schools, disruption is minimized while quality instructional time is maximized. One study, Improving School Climit (Findings from Schools Implementing Restorative Programs, showed that after only one year of restorative practice, there was a 30-60% drop in violent acts, serious incidents and disciplinary infractions. Restorative philosophy views misconduct as a violation against people and damaging to relationships in the school and throughout the community. The practice of restorative justice enables people to build and repair those relationships and communities through participatory learning and decision-making. With the potential of teaching conflict resolution skills, building stronger relationships and providing alternative approaches to discipline, many schools are exploring the use of restorative practices.
- Illinois: Over 600 schools implemented restorative solutions which included reduced disciplinary referrals and improved academic outcomes for students with positive results.Carpentersville Middle School office disciplinary referrals fell by 64% from 2005 to 2007 while the number of students that met or exceeded standard for 8th grade increased by 12.3% in Reading and 44% in Math.
- Chicago Public Schools: In 2006, the system adopted a new student code of conduct incorporating restorative practices. Over 50 high schools in Chicago now have restorative peer jury programs. According to a DePaul University Report by Bradley Olson and Judah Viola, (09-07), over 1,000 days of suspension were avoided in 2007- 2008 by referring students to peer jury programs for violating school rules, keeping them in learning environments. At Dyett High School, student arrest rates decreased by 83% one year after implementing a restorative peer jury program. In 12 Chicago public schools, the number of students who received six or more disciplinary referrals fell by more than 50% over three years.
- Florida: In a study of 102 schools after only one year of implementation, it was found that office disciplinary referrals fell by an average of 25% and out-of-school suspensions fell by an average of 10%.
- Los Angeles Unified School District: In 2007, passed a district-wide policy to implement school-wide positive behavior support in every school in the district with impressive results that during the first two years of implementation, overall suspensions dropped by 20%. However, African American students continued to be suspended at higher rates, according to a CADRE-2010 (Redefining Dignity in Our Schools: A Shadow Report on School-Wide Positive Behavior Support Implementation in South Los Angeles)
- West Philadelphia High School: On the state’s “Persistently Dangerous School” list for six years, the climate improved dramatically after only one year of implementing restorative practices.Suspensions were down by 50% in 2007-2008. Violent acts and serious incidents dropped 52% in the 2007-2008 school term and then another 40% by December, 2008.
- Denver Public Schools: New restorative justice discipline policies were adopted in 2008-2009, resulting in a 68% reduction in police tickets in schools and a 40% reduction in out-of-school suspensions.
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