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Tribal advocates keep up legal pressure for fair political maps; 12-member jury sworn in for Trump's historic criminal trial; the importance of healthcare decision planning; and a debt dilemma: poll shows how many people wrestle with college costs.

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Civil rights activists say a court ruling could end the right to protest in three southern states, a federal judge lets January 6th lawsuits proceed against former President Trump, and police arrest dozens at a Columbia University Gaza protest.

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Rural Wyoming needs more vocational teachers to sustain its workforce pipeline, Ohio environmental advocates fear harm from a proposal to open 40-thousand forest acres to fracking and rural communities build bike trail systems to promote nature, boost the economy.

Restorative Practices Strengthening Relationships with PA Students, Communities

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Monday, June 26, 2023   

Restorative practices have gained a foothold in Pennsylvania schools as districts look for ways to reduce suspensions and improve their school climate.

Craig Adamson, president of the model programs for the International Institute for Restorative Practices, said his organization works with more than 60 school districts, along with at-risk youths through the juvenile justice and child welfare systems in eastern Pennsylvania.

He explained restorative practices are used as an alternative to suspension, and their peer-mediated small groups give students an opportunity to talk, ask questions and air grievances.

"A lot of our work is about relationships, and working in groups and circles, and working through different issues," Adamson outlined. "The students can return back to their home schools as soon as they can make those transitions."

Adamson pointed out at their Restorative Reporting Center in Bucks County, students participate six days a week in a 20-week program which is an alternative to detention and placement. He added it is an intense program with structured homework time and behavioral interventions resulting in grades improving along with enhancing their social and emotional skills.

Applying restorative practices in Pennsylvania schools is not without its challenges. Proper training and ongoing support for educators are critical for successful implementation.

Keith Hickman, executive director of the institute wears many hats, including building relationships with state education departments and national collaboratives in the education and civic-engagement space. He works closely with school district leaders and school administrators on creating a climate of trust within the school.

"I help them use restorative practices as a way to problem-solve complex issues relevant to the climate and culture of their schools," Hickman noted. "This includes using restorative practices to improve their work climate for staff and learning environment for students."

Hickman argued Pennsylvania schools should become less reliant on punitive discipline because data show disproportionate suspension rates impact mostly Black and brown students.

He emphasized the institute and other organizations in the Pittsburgh area are helping educators, principals and superintendents develop valuable relationships to prevent the overreliance on punitive measures such as suspensions.


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