In the most recent issue of the Unified Family Court Connection, Karen E. Webber, director of OSI’s Education and Youth Development program discusses progressive discipline practices and the restorative approach to student behavior in Baltimore City Public Schools (BCPS) .
Webber gives three main reasons – poverty, racism or racial threat, and overly punitive responses to student behaviors – for the over-reliance on suspensions. Children who are suspended from school or who are otherwise pushed out are at greater risk of entering the juvenile justice system, creating the school-to-prison pipeline.
But, she contends, using restorative practices where accountability and discourse are used over adult-administered punishment can help develop responsibility, strengthen student-adult relationship and create a sense of community in the school.
OSI-Baltimore currently supports several programs dedicated to reforming overly harsh and punitive zero tolerance and “push out” practices that plagued the Baltimore City School System, such as the Holistic Life Foundation which runs the Holistic Me Afterschool Program, and the Center for Positive School Climate and Supportive Discipline at the University of Maryland Baltimore School of Social Work.
The Unified Family Court Connection is published by the University of Baltimore School of Law’s Sayra and Neil Meyerhoff Center for Families, Children, and the Courts (CFCC).