9News had a nice piece on 3/2/2010 about Denver’s North High School’s use of “Restorative Justice.” Restorative Justice entails bringing kids together that faught or had disagreements instead of just separating them through school suspensions. The logic behind Restorative Justice is to have the kids work out the difference while keeping them in school which in turn keeps the kids up to speed in their classes. It’s a nasty spiral of that appears to be evident. A student goes from suspensions to bad grades because of absences which then leads to the really high drop out rate in Denver’s public schools. In particular, Denver schools that have a large majority of minority students.
This seems like a good step by some caring and innovative educators. The problem with many of these poorer performing schools still falls on the home and the lack of caring parents. It is so easy for a kid to start hanging around with the “wrong crowd,” get into some minor trouble, get bad grades, then before you know it that kid is 25 and doing nothing with their life. I don’t have an answer for this problem but the real solution has to start with a serious look at the culture of these socio-ethnic groups that have for generations performed poorly and failed to climb up the ladder. The opportunities are there they just don’t seize it.