As the only educator membership organization actively involved in a campaign promoting restorative practices in schools, we get more requests for resources than we can handle from organizers, youth activists, advocates and educators across the country. Growing Fairness is our response to the requests made to Teachers Unite from local schools and organizations across the country for resources developed and used by educators that help schools create a safe community for all.
Research shows that punitive school discipline policies, like suspensions, do not reduce conflict, but instead increase the likelihood that students will fall behind, drop out and/or become incarcerated. In New York City, the number of student suspensions in public schools spiked dramatically over the past decade while the length of suspensions grew longer--a phenomenon disproportionately affecting Black students, according to a report released by the New York Civil Liberties Union and the Student Safety Coalition. Analyzing 10 years of previously undisclosed suspension data, the report shows that black students, who comprise 33 percent of the student body, served 53 percent of suspensions. Black students also served longer suspensions on average and were more likely to be suspended for subjective misconduct, like profanity and insubordination. A key factor contributing to this educational crisis is the negative climate for learning that exists in many schools serving low-income youth of color.
We at Teachers Unite work in service of a vision in which all teachers and students have democratic political representation, either through a community school board, or a democratic teachers’ union that works for social justice. We seek to build school-wide communities in which teachers and other staff work in concert with students and their families. We want police, arrests and metal detectors out of schools, because we want schools that foster education and loving inclusivity, not punishment and fear. We want to help teachers and schools build a way of relating to students that focuses on teaching students how to relate to others even in times of fear, crisis or conflict, so that they are prepared to handle conflict and difficulty when they are adults.