In the News

Youth - "March for Our Lives"

merlin 135954453 8886e7b7 13ce 4992 94c4 5bf9d2faaf4c master1050 2 New York Times photo by E. Schaff (3/24/2018)

On Saturday (March 24, 2018) the "March for Our Lives" event was led by surviving students from the school shooting at Florida's Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School a month before. Eight hundred simultaneous marches took place all over the country and worldwide.  Several hundred thousand young people and their supporters gathered in front of the Capital Building in Washington, DC.  In clear, articulate, consistent and loud expressions, demonstrators demanded change in American politics which has placed easy access to high-capacity, military-style weapons ahead of the safety of kids. The youth who have been the targets of school shooters or have been victims of gun violence in our communities have found their voice and are no longer willing to tolerate political inaction on gun safety issues.  They are speaking for themselves, telling their truth, and demanding change.  

The speeches by Edna Lisbet Chavez and Emma Gonzalez provide two powerful examples.  Many other speeches can be viewed on YouTube.

We need to hear their voices, feel their emotion and pain, understand their views, and join them in realizing their desire for a safe, just, and equitable society. 

These youth should inspire us all.  They are providing a hopeful message and pointing out a constructive path forward.  Their message is rooted in a demand for respect and dignity for all people despite gender, racial, ethnic, sexual-orientation, social, economic and political differences.  It is rooted in our shared humanity to place the lives of people ahead of things.  It is rooted in an understanding that "justice", "peace" and "safety" are at their core relational in nature - it is how we live with and respond to one another.  But that calls for honest, open, non-defensive, non-coercive dialogue in which we hear one another's stories and views.  It calls for seeing the "other" as not so different from ourselves.  This is what restorative justice values, principles and practices are about.

The NACRJ leadership applauds and supports these youth and their activism.  We share their vision of a better society.  We share their understanding that creating a better society and finding justice require a respect for our shared humanity and a willingness to listen to one another despite our differences.  We share their call to address harms and injustices in meaningful ways that get at the heart of problems rather than focus on symptoms through symbolic actions such as zero-tolerance and "target hardening" schools with added security systems.  We have done these things for nearly 25 years.  Now we hear a call for arming teachers - a new symbolic act.

We should all be very proud of the youths in the March for Our Lives movement as they provide a very hopeful vision for the future.

Michael J. Gilbert, Executive Director

Senator Uses Talking Piece

104962243 AP 18023560307962 collins talking stick.530x298In order to create a greater mood of civility, Republican Sen. Susan Collins of Maine told CNN reporters that she had to use a "talking stick" to help her colleagues learn the value of waiting until it is their turn to speak during recent negotiations over immigration and funding the federal government. The beautifully beaded talking stick was given to Collins by her friend, Democratic Senator Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota. It is originally from Africa and it is used to help control a debate in a meeting with lots of people and lots of emotional energy. Read more.

The Center for Justice and Peacebuilding (an NACRJ Institutional Member) at Eastern Mennonite University has invited Senators to traininng sessions on circle processes led by Kay Pranis. 

Kay Pranis is widely recognized as a leading expert on circle processes and the use of talking pieces to facilitate and control dialogue. Her "Circle Keeper's Handbook" is widely used by practitioners as a resource.

When suspensions weren't working, this high school opted for a new approach

The Washington Post

By Joe Heim August 23, 2016

Donnell Honesty TWP 8 23 16

Donnell Honesty, a student at Ballou High School in Southeast Washington, attends summer school at Ballou on July 17. Honesty went through the school’s restorative-justice program, which is changing the way discipline is handled at the school. (Evelyn Hockstein/For The Washington Post)
_________________________

Donnell Honesty can’t remember what the fight was about or even quite how it started.
He was a junior at D.C.’s Ballou High School in 2015 when another student stepped toward him in the school’s cafeteria. Within seconds, the two were trading punches.

Read more ...

After the Election - Ripple Effects in Schools

2016 Election RSD Cropped

 Since the election on November 8, 2016, we have received a number of emails from educators in elementary, middle school and high school regarding an increase in bullying, racial harassment and sexual harassment among students.  School staff are also observing expressions of anxiety and fear among students who wonder what the future of our nation holds for them.

As one of our members noted, "These stories are painful and this is a difficult time.  It is important that we maintain our principles so that hurts are processed in restorative ways."  In our view it is particularly important that educators address these issues in respectful and culturally sensitive ways that allow students to hear each others' stories and find understanding across racial, ethnic, cultural and class differences.

Attached are three documents that may help teachers address the harms and misunderstandings that children in their classrooms are experiencing at this time.

Dear Colleagues Letter - Department of Education, MN (Nov. 9, 2016)

Model Circle Process for Post Election Dialogue (UMOJA, Nov. 9, 2016)

Entry from the Teaching Tolearance Blog (Nov. 2, 2016)

We want to hear about your experiences with constructive responses to these issues.  If you are a member and wish to join a dialogue on this and other issues visit the Virtual Circle discussion forum on the NACRJ website. 

National Conferences

Our 6th NACRJ Conference was held in Oakland, CA on June 16-18, 2017 with three pre-conference training sessions on June 15, 2017.  We had 1,319 attendees, terrific keynote/plenary sessions and cultural performances, nearly 300 presentations, an awards ceremony, and a concert by "dead prez".  

Audio recordings of keynotes, interviews, photos and more can be found on the 2017 Conference page.

Check out past NACRJ Conferences in 2013, 2015, 2017 on the Conferences tab.

Planning for our 7th NACRJ Conference is progressing nicely.  It will be in Denver, CO (June 14-16, 2019) with Pre-Conference Training Sessions on June 13, 2019.  Put it on your calendar.  We want to see you there.

In 2021, the 8th NACRJ Conference will be held in Chicago, IL.  We look forward to being in Chi-Town. 

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