Restorative Justice is Racial Justice. The NOAH Education Task Force echos the voice of community members who want more resources for educating and caring for our Black and Brown children, because for too long we have criminalized them.
We stand at a crossroads on some critical questions:
- Will Director of Schools, Dr. Battle, and the Board of Education increase the amount of time our children should be suspended? Or will they support Restorative Practices in all of our schools?
- Will they decide that unintentional disruption counts as a suspendible offense? Or will they see these instances as opportunities for Social Emotional Learning?
Our Director of Schools and our Board of Education need to hear from you!
Please take a few minutes today to email or call Dr. Battle, and the MNPS Board of Education. Tell them - DISMANTLE the School to Prison Pipeline! And Restore Our Children - Restorative Justice is Racial Justice!
Cut and paste the following talking points into your email message and send to Dr. Battle, as well as your School Board leader (find a district map here), or all of the School Board leaders. You can also make a phone call to Dr. Battle and the School Board. Email addresses and phone numbers for each of these leaders is listed beneath the talking points.
- The purpose of this call/email is to ask you to oppose the changes to the Student Handbook that will be presented to the School Board on June 9.
- Over the past several years (2013-2014 and 2018-2019), we have seen progress in the reduction of suspensions and a lowering in the disparities of suspensions for African American and Latino children. Schools like Warner, Fall-Hamilton and Napier have garnered recognition of their implementation of creative, restorative practices, including national coverage of Warner’s “BeWell In School” program.
- Rather than implement harsh, regressive and unnecessary changes to the MNPS code of discipline, I urge you to endorse and implement a consistent vision for restorative practices and social emotional learning throughout Metro Nashville Public Schools, bolstered by mandatory ongoing training for teachers and staff and strengthened by transparent accountability.
- Changes are premature, coming after less than a year of experience and data with the most recent changes. The timing is also problematic because of the prolonged absence from school that our students have experienced because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
- The proposed changes are regressive, reversing a six-year trajectory of progress in restorative discipline. The proposed changes, which introduce more causes for suspension and allow for longer suspensions - up to ten days in some cases - are not supported by any evidence. On the other hand, in our own Nashville public schools where the emphasis has been placed on restorative discipline and social emotional learning - with the necessary staff and training to support this approach - behavior has improved and students have made dramatic gains in academic achievement.
- Suspension from school is correlated with increased likelihood of dropping out before graduation and increased likelihood of incarceration.
- The proposed changes are written in language that leaves too much room for subjectivity in interpretation and implementation. When this is the case, the harmful consequences fall most heavily on students of color. Six years ago, Nashville schools attracted national attention because of racial disparities in discipline. In response to this finding, the discipline code was rewritten. The regressive changes being proposed now would, if implemented, only expand the racial disparities that we still need to eliminate.
- Discipline is instruction for the purpose of cultivating learning and improving behavior. Only in extreme situations does discipline require punishment. Overuse of punishment is counterproductive; it interferes with learning and doesn’t improve student behavior or school culture. In those of our own Nashville public schools that have invested in school-wide restorative practices in discipline instead of punishment, discipline has, in fact, been a part of authentic learning. In those schools, behavior has improved and students have made impressive gains in all academic areas.
- Training for teachers and staff around restorative practices in discipline is not uniform throughout the district and remains voluntary - not mandatory. When the approach to discipline is not consistent within the school system - or even within a single school - discipline becomes ineffective, much like inconsistent approaches within the same family or household. MNPS needs a unified and positive vision of discipline, system-wide implementation and the training and resources to allow it to succeed - not more punishment.
Thank you for reviewing this request. NOAH appreciates the opportunity to work with MNPS on more a holistic and restorative approach to the education of all of our children.
MNPS NAMES AND CONTACT INFORMATION
Dr. Adrienne Battle
Director of Schools – MNPS
Dr. Sharon Gentry
School Board, D1
Rachael Anne Elrod
School Board, D2
School Board, D3
School Board, D4; Chair
School Board, D6
School Board, D7
School Board, D8
School Board, D9