The Little Book of Restorative Justice (Zehr)

Don’t ask me to define it. Apparently, those in the movement can’t agree on a definition or even whether a definition is needed. I don’t mean to start out with a mocking tone. I just finished this book, and I’m both invigorated and frustrated.

All I know is that what we’re doing now isn’t working. I mean this both in terms of what we’re doing in society (see The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander – http://newjimcrow.com) and what we’re doing in schools (http://stopsuspensions.org) isn’t working. Since I’m a teacher, I’m going to focus more on the latter.

Students need to be in school to learn. Even with an on-line curriculum, students do better when they’re in school. Absences lead to failures. Failures lead to drop-outs. And drop-outs lead to, well, what we have now. We have to keep children in school, particularly children of color.

How? Can restorative justice work? Can it at least be an alternative? Can it be the first alternative with the traditional justice system as the back-up?

It seems to be helping in Oakland (http://rjoyoakland.org).

I’m interested in exploring it and learning more.

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