MnEEP is proud to co-sponsor the 2018 International Restorative Practices Conference, Aug 9 – 11 at Metro State University in St Paul. Marking the first time the U.S. will host this world-wide gathering, the conference – with its theme of “Restoring Self, Restoring Community, Restoring World—will feature 60 presentations from across the globe. This is an important event, and an indicator of Minnesota’s growing reputation in the international restorative practices community.
When we worked to build MnEEP’s its strategic plan four years ago, we understood that student success for people of color and indigenous people (POCI) means having school environments that foster positive student engagement. We saw the dominant practices of punishment-based school discipline policies and practices as destructive to student success. The tragedy of those approaches is that they disproportionately punish POCI students and do so in a way that removes them from valuable instruction time. Furthermore, they abandon ways to create positive relationships – based on responsibility and accountability – in school settings that can build powerful learning communities.
As people all around the globe come to understand that building community is key to happiness, social justice, and sustainable life-styles, they are turning to restorative practices. Since history is a part of our existence and since the history of modern human kind involves the destructive, systemic and broad application of white supremacy, we are learning that we simply cannot build community without restoring what was damaged by racial supremacy.
This is as true in New Zealand and South Africa as it is in Minnesota’s public school classrooms.
The restorative practices movement offers a pro-active approach to build communities. It understands that punishment-based discipline practices are strongly rooted in racial supremacy, especially as applied to POCI students. And so, it goes beyond creating alternatives to such discipline – although it certainly does offer an alternative way to respond to conflict. It actively constructs mutual commitments among and between students, teachers, administrators and even local community members to collectively own both our past of racial supremacy and the responsibility to build and sustain healthy, mutually respectful school environments. The result is places where learning happens within the context of empowering one another.
Restorative practices seeks self-agency for all, and especially for POCI students.
MnEEP is proud to be contributing to that emergence in Minnesota.