A Houston Chronicle article of February 23, 2016, highlights the success of restorative discipline in Fort Bend Independent School District, Texas.
Marilyn Armour, professor at the School of Social Work and director of the Institute for Restorative Justice and Restorative Dialogue, has been working with the Texas Education Agency to administer free trainings on restorative discipline to public school districts across the state.
“Fort Bend ISD came to us and said, ‘Look, we know we’re in trouble. We want to put this into our schools,” Armour told the Houston Chronicle.
Derived from practices originally used in the criminal justice system, restorative discipline focuses on building relationships and fostering a better school climate to prevent students from acting out. When students do misbehave, instead of focusing on punishment, authority figures try to understand why a student did so and work with that student to prevent a recurrence. The method can be extended beyond just student and staff relationships to interactions between teachers, principals and parents.
The approach has been in use in public schools in states ranging from Minnesota to California for years, but gained attention in Texas after it helped turn around a struggling San Antonio middle school in 2012.
This school year, Fort Bend ISD put restorative discipline in place for sixth-grade students at 12 of the district’s other 13 middle schools, with encouraging results.