Restoration in CPS

Abolition & Justice, Education, Love
I've been reading, writing, thinking about schools as sites of love. Nationwide, districts are moving toward less punitive and more restorative approaches to school discipline. This shift comes at a time when the civil rights arms of the Department of Education and Department of Justice released guidance to districts about minimizing discriminatory and exclusionary discipline policies. I've read comments complaining that humane approaches to discipline means ignoring misbehavior and allowing classrooms to deteriorate into chaos. This does not reflect the reality of schools that work to improve their climates nor the students and communities who are positively impacted by the changes. Moving away from zero tolerance and other harsh discipline codes requires a multi-pronged approach including: supporting teachers with classroom management, helping faculty and staff unpack racial and ethnic stereotypes,…
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The undoing of schools as prisons

Abolition & Justice, Education, Love
I have a post in draft form that pulls together a couple of recent articles related to schools as sites of love, but I didn't want to let the day pass without sharing this piece from the Atlantic. Last year I wrote for The Atlantic about a notorious North Philadelphia junior high school known for years as the “Jones Jail.” Its rambunctious students wreaked such terror on the neighborhood that the police put the streets surrounding the school on lockdown every day at dismissal. Nearby shop-keepers locked their doors and porches as 800 of the city’s poorest kids streamed out the doors, often reportedly climbing over parked cars in their unruly rush to get out of school. When the John Paul Jones Middle School was taken charter and reopened as the Memphis Street Academy,…
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Schools as sites of love

Abolition & Justice, Education, Love
Love is one of my favorite topics. Especially love as it plays out in society. Since it's something I speak about and highlight often, even without provocation, I've decided to write more about it this year. Love is a broad idea, so I've been brainstorming ways to approach it in meaningful slices. Given my professional background, it seems a good place to start would be schools as sites of love (or not). With my concurrent interests in prison abolition, the school to prison pipeline, and restorative justice, love is perhaps a natural lens through which to consider those intersections. To that end, I'd like to share this piece from yesterday's Washington Post. School leaders in Alexandria agreed to implement a restorative justice program this school year. The school year is…
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Ask questions

Abolition & Justice, Education, Text Talk
As a graduate student, one of my favorite topics of discussion and research was inquiry. Asking questions, conducting investigations, and building knowledge through exploration are powerful tools for thinking and learning. As I continued in my studies, I learned of critical inquiry, which expands the idea of questioning to include a political or sociocultural lens. Developing conscientização, or critical awareness/awakening, is akin to taking the red pill. You start to ask sociopolitical questions and suddenly  you are hard-pressed to see anything as flat, uncomplicated or devoid of nuance. This isn't a negative thing, but it makes for interesting conversations. I mention all of this to introduce a quote by Angela Davis. I'm currently reading The Meaning of Freedom and Other Difficult Dialogues,  a compilation of speeches she delivered between 1994…
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Justice, conflicted. | #vaw #abolition

30 Day Blog Challenge, Abolition & Justice, Feminist Thought, Sexual Violence
The defendants in the Steubenville rape trial were found guilty yesterday. My initial reaction was elation. Jane Doe was sexually assaulted, then publicly humiliated, and despite the attempt to cast her as consenting to the abuse, her violators did not get away it. Only that's not exactly true. The chain of complicity in this case is long and tightly woven with bystanders who refused to intervene, friends and acquaintances who felt the ongoing assault of another human was worthy of laughter and sport, and still others who felt the need to rally against Jane, for the sake of young men who ostensibly had the rest of their lives ahead of them. These complicated factors aside, two people were found guilty, and for that I was glad. But I was also conflicted. They…
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More on Restorative Justice

Abolition & Justice
Today a girlfriend said, people are never going to operate from a place of love 100% of the time. I agree. But societally and individually, we could strive for it more often, yes? We can choose compassion over fear and closure. We can choose restoration and transformation over revenge. If there's a reaction to every action, what happens when every choice is a punitive, vengeful one? How can we break the chain of spite? I think about this quite a bit, but it's pretty theoretical. What does it look like to make such choices? This is where the idea of restorative justice comes into play. "Restorative justice recognizes that crime hurts everyone - victims, offenders and community. It creates an obligation to make things right." For many, the righting of things…
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Restorative Justice and the Caring Community | #30in30 #WriteLikeCrazy.

30 Day Blog Challenge, Abolition & Justice
I'm at a conference, so I'm on and off the grid this weekend. While traveling, I had a short, but productive bout of writing-as-thinking. I decided not to push myself to finish either of the two pieces I started, but they are definitely seeds, firmly planted. One of the pieces was a follow-up to my post on a caring community. Even now, I'm still thinking about it. It all goes back to love, methinks. I sometimes wonder why love is such a revolutionary act. But why wouldn't it be? We are submerged in a world of violence. We see violent images on our televisions. We use violent language with people we love. Sing songs with violent lyrics. Think violent thoughts. Send violent energy with looks and gestures. And then we…
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The Caring Community | #30in30 #WriteLikeCrazy.

30 Day Blog Challenge, Abolition & Justice
As a new abolitionist, I often imagine the reasons people might oppose abolition. I hear all the why nots they silently levy. I compose responses to these imaginary rebukes, and in so doing, I look to established abolitionists for guidance. In Instead of Prisons, the authors note several questions abolitionists confront. Two stand out: What do we do about those who pose "a danger" to society? Don't we have to solve that problem before we can advocate the abolition of prisons? How can we work for needed prison reforms which require structural change within the society, before a new social order comes about? Two assumptions seem to underlie these questions. Firstly, we can only work on one thing at a time, and after the attainment of a perfect solution, can we attempt something else. Secondly,…
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Decarceration and Excarceration. | #30in30 #WriteLikeCrazy.

30 Day Blog Challenge, Abolition & Justice
Well, I would like to see, as Fay Honey Knopp, who was an abolitionist during the '70s and the ’80s and one of the co-authors of a wonderful book called Instead of Prisons: An Abolitionist Handbook, you know, I would like to see an emphasis on decarceration, an emphasis on excarceration.              Angela Davis on Democracy Now, October, 2010 I’m back in school. Quite honestly, as a lifelong learner, I’ve never left. As soon as I graduated, I created a syllabus of resources on black feminist thought, narrative inquiry and transformative learning and began reading. Studying these topics was nurturing and in many ways, freeing. Love and curiosity have led me to study mass incarceration and abolition. My new syllabus is growing. A recurring name…
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On Behalf of Justice. | #30in30 #WriteLikeCrazy.

30 Day Blog Challenge, Abolition & Justice
Reading in preparation for a lecture on Buddhist writings, I came across this quote: What is the noblest way of life? My unhesitating answer to that question is: a life dedicated to truth and justice. Only in a world where truth and justice flourish can people freely bring forth their innate goodness. If, in contrast, philosophies or belief systems that deny the possibility of infinite human improvement prevail, misery and suffering will abound. ~Daisaku Ikeda, Lecture on Nichiren’s Letter from Teradomari This resonated today. As some of you know, I’m becoming an activist and advocate for modern abolition – the end of mass incarceration. These days I’m mulling a series of essays. I want to help us imagine a world in which imprisonment is no longer the strategy of first…
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