By Anne Collier
Here’s a model for preventing bullying and a whole lot of other problems: a school that promotes social literacy not zero tolerance. At the Boston area’s Charlestown High School, “where many students come from high-crime neighborhoods, an innovative program employs a surprising method to help keep teens in school and out of trouble with the law: Encouraging them to talk to each other,” reports NBC News. The school uses a restorative-justice-type program called “Diploma Plus” that’s “gaining popularity in classrooms across the country,” according to NBC. Restorative justice, which is used in many different programs around the US and seen as an alternative to zero tolerance and the suspension-and-expulsion practice that a 2011 survey of 1 million students in Texas found to create a “school-to-prison pipeline” (see this). Restorative justice, on the other hand, builds “relationships, trust and community,” NBC cites its proponents as saying. That could be seen as social literacy development, a literacy that has been shown to improve academic performance as well as social efficacy (see this).
- The Washington Post noted the decline of zero tolerance in school policy in a thorough trend piece in mid-2011.
- “Zero tolerance is zero intelligence,” a juvenile judge told the Atlanta Constitution in 2009.
- “A Connecticut school to its students: We trust you”
- “All kids deserve the safety & other benefits of social-emotional learning”