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Education Specialist

Lynn, I applaud your efforts

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Lynn, I applaud your efforts to create an educational system which works best for your son; sadly your experience seems to echo my concern of having a student based justice system within a system wherein students have no real power. Best of luck with your endeavors, I would strongly recommend a book on unschooling, a "twist" on homeschooling, The Teenage Liberation Handbook: How to Quit School and Get a Real Life and Education, by Grace Llewellyn.

As a parent I have one

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As a parent I have one experience of "restorative justice" - a policy used by teenage son's high school. I cannot support it for some students. Our son is "gifted visual spatial learner with learning difficulties". When faced with bullying or other stresses at school he "shuts down". We reported the bullying and were told of the restorative justice approach. I pointed out that it would be impossible for our son to talk to the bully in such an environment and would only increase his anxiety. The solution we preferred was for a "safe haven" where there is adult supervision. A place where our son could go during breaks where he felt safe and comfortable. We had limited success in this. There was a games room established but the school complained of not being able to staff it. He is now removed from the school system and we are now learning at home. My feeling is there was no culture of democracy at the school, there was no overall discussion with the school community about restorative justice and there was no second option in place when it didn't work. My reason for commenting is simply to point out that the process doesn't work for all students.

Education Specialist

Sadly these noble efforts are

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Sadly these noble efforts are caged in an adult controlled building. If these efforts are to be authentic they must be implemented within a democratic school. What makes a school democratic? Start with absolutely no coercion, this includes grad requirements, and then empower students and staff, 1 person 1 vote to make all school decisions. Lastly, this system cannot be undermined by an autocratic district office. Blend restorative justice into one of those schools and it takes on an entirely different context. This is similar to the functioning of most student councils around the nation; they are nice opportunities for kids to choose the theme of homecoming, but really no exercises in real democracy with meaning. Student Council sadly often becomes a nice add on to the college bound students' application.

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