A better way: PAA affiliate’s Restorative Listening Dialogue


PAA/PPU leader Sheila Warren

With data showing that black students in Portland public schools are four times more likely than white students to be suspended or expelled, PAA’s affiliate, Portland Parent Union, has been working to replace ineffective and discriminatory policies and practices with ones that are responsive to student needs.

A recent TV news piece shared the story of PPU member Cashawn Edwards whose son attended a local charter school. The only African-American student in the school, he was bullied, called the “n” word, and, “He was always the one being pulled out of the classroom,” Edwards said. “He felt like he was getting picked on or when they were trying to mediate different situations, it was always him. It was like I’m sending him to the wolves every day.”
PPU founder, Sheila Warren, says she founded PPU because of “racism in the school and people feeling privileged around their process,” she told KATU-TV:
Warren says stories like Edwards’ are all too common.

“What the issue is is not that these kids have behavior issues, it’s the system does not know how to deal with these children.”

She says she’s helped hundreds of parents in the Portland area.

“We’re seeing from kindergarten or Head Start to fifth grade those kids being demonized and labeled as behavior issues and mostly are black boys,” Warren said. “Black boys are being labeled as emotionally disturbed. The system does not know how to deal with that.”

Sheila and PPU have worked successfully with school officials to implement¬† what they call “culturally responsive teaching,” “positive behavioral interventions and supports” and “restorative justice,” a practice “focused on resolving conflicts by strengthening relationships instead of punishment.”

Or as Warren defines it: “Rather than suspend they just sit down and say, ‘OK, let’s figure out how we can make this better.”

Read more in the full article here, and visit PPU’s pages on Restorative Listening Dialogue.

Posted on by Julie Woestehoff Posted in Misc

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