Will Restorative Justice in Oakland Schools Survive?
Restorative Justice is, "...a set of principles and practices inspired by indigenous values used to build community, respond to harm/conflict and provide individual circles of support for students. By building, maintaining and restoring relationships between members of the entire school community, we help to create an environment where all students can thrive." This definition is directly from Oakland Unified School District's Restoration justice page. Oakland is one of the first cities to have a Restorative Justice program implemented into the school district. In 2007 RJOY ,a non-profit organization and member of Genesis, launched the first Restorative Justice program in West Oakland Middle School. This was the start of something that no other city has experienced. This past school year almost 40 schools throughout Oakland had RJ staff!
Recently, RJ in Oakland has been facing financial scares. As part of a 22 million dollar cut to OUSD, more than 850,000 dollars is being cut from the Restorative Justice department. This amount of money being cut would lay off most of the 31 staff members.
OUSD students grew up with RJ so having it not be funded really is a huge disservice to them. Schools that are committed to the whole student and school community should understand the importance of a process that doesn't write off students for mistakes but rather makes an effort for the community to learn and grow.
To be continued...