Carlton, who was a principal in Houston, says school leaders cannot
just abandon the use of suspension and expulsion, since doing so could
lead to a chaotic environment where students donâ€™t take rules
seriously. The key, he says, is to find balance.
As CPS CEO, Duncan gave the Chicago Area Project a grant to
implement restorative justice in six elementary schools, as a way to
restore balance to discipline. But the program has yet to get underway
in many of the schools, says Edith Crigler, president of the project,
who says sheâ€™s met with resistance from teachers and principals to such
â€œHere it is at the end of the school year, and we havenâ€™t started,â€
Crigler says in May. â€œThe schools canâ€™t conceptualize how it would
work. And they have so many other problems that they are dealing with.
They just donâ€™t know how to get behind it. Restorative justice might be
in writing, but there is no mechanism to implement it.â€
Teachers often fail to see how these programs can help them as
opposed to providing more work for them, she explains. Some of them are
veterans and from the old school of discipline, demanding quiet
students who fall in line. Other teachers are from vastly different
cultural backgrounds and canâ€™t relate to students, assuming the worst
too quickly when misbehavior erupts.
Either way, Crigler says sheâ€™s tired of talking to students and
parents who complain about suspensions that seem, on the surface, to be
unwarranted. Whatever the reasons, she notes, â€œstudents cannot learn if
they are not in school and not in a supportive environment.
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