School discipline reform has gotten a ringing endorsement in California where school districts have chosen to dedicate millions of dollars towards "restorative justice" programs that keep kids in school and address behavioral problems with constructive alternatives to suspension or expulsion.
From Ed Source:
"The majority of the 50 largest school districts have included programs in their July 1 budgets that emphasize connecting with troubled students or offering them a chance to make amends, rather than taking more punitive actions, according to a preliminary analysis by Fight Crime: Invest in Kids California. The group is a state office of a national nonprofit organization of law enforcement officers and prosecutors.
The investments include $4.2 million for restorative justice programs, which offer a format for students to make amends and repair relationships with those they have harmed, in the Los Angeles Unified School District. They also include $2.9 million in the Elk Grove Unified School District and $1.6 million in the Santa Ana Unified School District for a data-driven approach known as “Schoolwide Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports,” a framework that guides the use of research-based practices and offers increasing levels of behavioral management and support."
Nationally, the movement for discipline reform has been picking up speed in recent years – even the U.S. Department of Education has weighed in with guidance to help districts limit the overuse and misuse of suspensions and expulsions, which are disproportionally leveled on students of color, students with disabilities and LGBTQ students.
What's particularly interesting about the California investments is how they reflect the priorities of the local communities. California's new Local Control Funding Formula gives districts the discretion to spend state funding on programs that communities ask for, so the school budget is in many ways a reflection of local priorities. Clearly, California's communities see the value in calling for new discipline policies that address problems proactively to keep students in class and learning.
Read more here.