Buffalo, NY: "Stress and emotional trauma many bring with them to the classroom"

Dec 13, 2017, Buffalo (NY) News: Editorial: District's 'restorative' practices deserve a chance Buffalo teachers may have a point regarding discipline in city schools, but Superintendent Kriner Cash has the better policy. Not all infractions call for harsh punishment and suspensions should be reserved for incidents in which no lesser punishment is suitable. But the Buffalo Teachers Federation says students who act out, disrupting classes in one way or another, are being sent back to their classrooms with little or no punishment. It claims, without offering evidence, that the district is simply bowing to federal and state pressure to restrict the number of out-of-school suspensions. … The school district has adopted a more thoughtful policy on suspensions, and for lesser offenses has turned to a “restorative” practice. That policy’s goal is to deal with misbehavior through mediation, community service and even peer counseling. It is time-consuming and requires training. That’s where the district needs to pay more attention, as Cash already knows. The restorative approach is a more appropriate response than the union’s suggestion to spend more money by hiring additional school counselors, social workers and psychologists. Perhaps some increase in their numbers will make sense at some point, but first the district and union need to work together to ensure staffs are trained and, importantly, that school administrators communicate with their teachers about student discipline. … The new policy of “mindfulness” rooms holds promise. Its aim is to address behavioral problems, resolve conflicts, reduce suspensions and teach kids how to cope with the stress and emotional trauma that so many bring with them to the classroom, and which are the sources of at least some of the misconduct that troubles classrooms.