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TE4SJ 2016, held on October 15 at Holyoke Community College, brought together educators in Western Massachusetts who are interested in social justice and equity in K-12 schools, early childhood classrooms, and surrounding communities. Participants connected, networked, shared, and learned from each other about how to develop education as a tool for equity and social justice.
Towards Transformative Justice
The Restorative Justice movement in schools is continuing to expand as laws and policies mandate that schools find alternative approaches to exclusionary discipline. At Holyoke High School young people have created a model program that seeks to engage youth and adults in practices such as community building, support, and accountability circles and through their work with circle practice, they are challenging traditional paradigms of power that often leave youth voice out of the decision-making process around discipline and whole-school climate and culture.
Instead of simply working to "restore" existing oppressive conditions, which is a common approach to Restorative Justice work in schools, the youth in Pa'Lante are working to make their school truly responsive to the needs of students. Youth in Pa'lante see their work as part of a long legacy of youth movements in communities of color that have always been at the forefront of work for educational justice. As such, they ground their work as circle keepers in an analysis of systems of oppression and consistently work to confront these oppressive systems as they play out in schools. In addition to their work with circles, they currently run workshops for teachers and youth to raise awareness about how the school to prison pipeline works and how it can be interrupted through meaningful educational practices and meaningful partnerships with youth.
For more detail about the sessions and the schedule of events, click here.