OTL allies held a Twitter rally last week after Eva Moskowitz, founder of Success Academy Charter Schools in New York City, penned an op-ed for the Wall Street Journal in which she tried to justify the use of harsh discipline policies in schools. While Moskowitz's schools churn out high test scores, educators and advocates have questioned the extreme disciplinary practices her schools use to achieve them.
The Twitter rally was organized by the Urban Youth Collabotative, one of may youth organizing groups in the city working to reform harsh discipline practices and introduce alternatives, like restorative justice, that focus on helping students learn from their mistakes and make amends, rather than barring them from the classroom.
Suspensions are most often given more minor, nonviolent misbehaviors, and disproportaionately fall on students of color, students with disabilities and LGBTQ students. Yet in her op-ed Moskowitz's draws on images of violence to perpetuate a racially-tinged narrative of dangerous urban schools – all without acknowledging the role that harsh discipline policies play in pushing students down the school-to-prison pipeline. Suspensions alienate students from the classroom and increase their likelihood of dropping out, which in turn increases their chances of winding up in the criminal justice system.
On the other hand, restorative justice practices help educators build healthy school communities and use constructive conflict resolution. The OTL Campaign released a toolkit last year that can help educators introduce and integrate these strategies into their schools read ithere.
Check out some of the great comments from the Twitter chat below and view the whole conversation here.