The teachers at McLane High School seem to misunderstand the basics of restorative justice.
“This is unfair to students who come to school ready to learn.” Restorative justice acknowledges that many students do not come to school ready to learn for reasons outside of their control. These students have as much right to be served as those who are fortunate enough to have a life that allows them to be “ready to learn.”
“There is not a well-defined plan for dealing with student misbehavior.” Restorative justice recognizes that each situation is unique. What repairs one situation may not work for others. A pre-made plan rarely restores justice.
“Students face no accountability measures.” Restorative justice actually promotes a more powerful sense of accountability than traditional discipline. If two students fight, it is both harder and more effective for them to sit down and work through the issue than it is for them to be suspended, in which case they miss school and do not repair the relationship.
I urge McLane teachers to think deeply about the philosophy of restorative justice as well as the long-term outcomes they want to see for their students before giving up. It works, I promise.
Lauren Seymour, Fresno