There is a wealth of research on the relationship between school discipline and academic achievement among school age children and adolescents. Studies show persistent racial disparities in the type, frequency and harshness of discipline meted out to students, and these disparities in turn contribute to lower levels of achievement and even the “school to prison pipeline” for minority students.

Dr. Marilyn Armour, director of the Institute for Restorative Justice and Restorative Dialogue (IRJRD), is our guest for this episode of the podcast. IRJRD defines Restorative Discipline as “a philosophy and system-wide intervention that places relationships at the heart of the educational experience. The goal of Restorative Discipline is to change the school climate rather than merely respond to student behavior.”

Dr. Armour explains what this means, why Restorative Discipline and its philosophical underpinning, restorative justice, is starting to catch on in Texas, and ways that the approach can be implemented:

It is a philosophy, it is also a movement, and it is a set of practices. And the intent behind it is to redirect society’s retributive approach to crime and wrongdoing. So what that means if you deconstruct that, if you take that apart, is that restorative justice is really a victim-centered approach to wrongdoing that gives the people most directly affected by that wrongdoing to come together for dialogue, and to do what they can to make things as right as possible in the aftermath of the wrongdoing.”

The Hogg Foundation has taken its own interest in this area. In 2015, the foundation awarded $100,000 in grants to two Texas public schools and one school partnership for the Trauma-informed Approaches to Behavior in Schools (TIA) grant program.

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