With the new school year underway, I want to remind you of the critical need for restorative practices in our schools, to explain the obligation educators have to implement those practices, and to provide some resources to help implement restorative practices at your school.
After a year of disrupted learning last year, students and educators are excited to be face-to-face in the classroom again, but wary of the continued challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Teaching in a pandemic pulled back the curtain on many of the barriers to learning that so many students already were facing-a tumultuous home life, no access to the internet, housing and food insecurity. And the data confirm that students of color suffered significantly more than their peers as a result of the pandemic.
That's why, as students return to the classroom, I am asking you to double down on our shared commitment to stamping out those disparities with every tool we have-particularly restorative practices.
For our students, the stakes are high. As Michigan's chief law enforcement officer, I've seen firsthand the juvenile justice system and the lifelong impact that it can have on students. And, as educators, you know all too well how educational outcomes change once a student becomes involved in the criminal justice system.
Over the past year, my office has worked with State Superintendent Dr. Michael Rice, the National Education Association (NEA), the Michigan Education Association (MEA), and other stakeholders to dig deep into the causes and impacts of disproportionate school suspension and expulsion rates and, relatedly, juvenile and adult incarceration rates. We worked to find ways that my office can partner with our schools, teachers and communities to raise awareness of this issue and be a resource for educators.
This year, I also led a coalition of attorneys general around the country in submitting two letters to the United States Department of Education, requesting that the Department issue guidance for school districts to address the long history of racial disparities in the use of exclusionary discipline, which still exist today. These letters also discussed related disparities in school discipline based on sex, disability, sexual orientation, and gender identity.
Attorney General Dana Nessel wants to collect input from school officials on what schools are doing to implement restorative practices.
Recently, the Attorney General visited Raupp Elementary School in Lincoln Park to learn about Lincoln Park Public Schools' Resilient Schools Project.
The project supports student recovery in the wake of trauma and adversity. It gives students and teachers tools to prioritize students' social and emotional needs and set them up for success in the classroom and beyond. And it's already proven to be a tremendous success.
If you have a success story to share with your restorative practices program, I invite you to share it with my office by clicking the link below. I'd love to come see the program in action.