Restorative ‘Justice’ in Texas Public Schools
This article is an opinion piece from Bill Lockwood. Catch American Liberty with Bill Lockwood weekly at 11 a.m. Saturdays on NewsTalk 1290.
Many public schools today are rife with lawless student behavior, particularly from minority students. This misbehavior is exacerbated because of the new trendy psychotherapeutic model called “Restorative Justice.” In reality, it is not “justice” at all, but a progressive ideology that refuses to hold students accountable for their behavior, replacing it with what columnist Paul Sperry called “touchy-feely” alternatives such as a “talking circle.”
The entire concept of Restorative Justice is based upon the assumption that black students are suspended at higher rates than whites due to racism in white administrators and teachers. Police departments who patrol schools have been told to quit giving out tickets for misbehavior at the schoolhouse because blacks were receiving the higher percentages of tickets. The result is predictable. Lawlessness increases.
In New York City, public-school students caught stealing, doing drugs, or even attacking someone can “avoid suspension” under these new progressive guidelines. They will instead be sent to a “talking circle” where they can share their feelings. Per Sperry’s 2015 article, “Every reasonable effort must be made to correct student behavior through … restorative practices.” This is the 32-page discipline code in NYC public schools.
The Chicago Teachers Union complained that restorative justice practices left teachers “struggling to control unruly kids.” Then-Mayor of Chicago, Rahm Emanuel, announced that the school was moving away from “zero-tolerance policy” and would promote “restorative practices.” This is what failed communist Mayor Bill de Blasio called a “holistic approach.”
In Syracuse, New York, restorative justice practices has caused the discipline to collapse. Teachers regularly complain that teens are more “apt to fight, mouth off to teachers and roam the halls under the more lenient policies.” All of which has put students and staff at risk and “make quality instruction impossible.”
In Los Angeles the on-campus offenses have also spiked after similar policies were implemented. Federal orders came down from the Obama Administration to “reduce suspensions of African-Americans” after which crimes by blacks were ignored, including threats against teachers.
In place of traditional discipline, the LAUSD has a “restorative justice” counselor. In nearby Orange County, “violent and disrespectful student behavior” is also increasing since “restorative practices” have been implemented.
In nearby Santa Ana, California, the same “restorative policies” have had similar results. “… where middle-school kids now regularly smoke pot in bathrooms—even some in class — attack staff — spitting on teachers, pelting them with eggs, even threatening to stab them …” Unsurprisingly, sixty-five percent of Santa Ana teachers say the “restorative programs” are not working.
In Philadelphia schools, where talking circles have replaced traditional discipline, minority students regularly act-out and dare teachers to “kick them out of class.” The same thing is occurring in San Diego public schools; in Oakland schools, Portland public schools, Washington, D.C. public schools, San Francisco public schools, and many others.
According to teacher Paul Bruno, restorative justice not only refuses to discipline poor behavior, but encourages bad behavior. It does so by “lavishing attention on students for committing infractions.” The so-called “talking circles” which replace suspensions may “unwittingly allow already assertive students to leverage their social dominance even further inside the classroom.”
In light of the above, most Texans believe that “these are the east and left coasts of America; such could not occur in Texas.” But in this they are dead wrong. Not only is this same model already implemented right now in many Texas school districts, including Wichita Falls ISD, but is being openly sponsored by high-profile organizations such as Austin-based Texas Appleseed.
It is high-time for Texans to get back to common-sense local control of our school systems as well as discipline strategies. Education will languish until we do.