Restorative Justice and the Reclamation of Civic Education
I am engaged in a program of research that examines the intersections of literacy, justice, and the school-to-prison pipeline in youth settings, including middle schools, high schools, and non-profit organizations committed to serving youth who have experienced isolation and/or removal from school settings through suspensions, expulsions, and other punitive actions. My professional development goal is to gain a multi-dimensional as well as practical understanding of how these experiences impact and shape educational opportunities for American youth and their ability to be civic actors in schools and communities. To further this professional development plan, I plan to embed myself in policy and practice settings that implement restorative justice, and then to incorporate the new strategies I learn into my research, including my work with preservice teachers in the secondary English program I direct at the University of Wisconsin–Madison).
During the year of my Fellowship, I will pursue three major objectives. By engaging in activities such as circle keeping in jails, prisons, and schools; creating restorative justice curriculum for K–12 teachers; and participating in the planning and implementation of restorative justice programs in two non-profit organizations, I seek to learn:
1) how these organizations use their expertise as practitioners and policymakers to institute restorative justice programs in youth settings, including juvenile and criminal justice contexts, schools, and school districts;
2) how best to provide technical assistance (e.g., circle keeper training; data analysis tools for working with vulnerable populations) to organizations and institutions that wish to implement restorative justice programs and practices;
3) how organizations (and especially in my second site, YWCA–Madison) can employ racial justice to leverage policies in school contexts in an effort to humanize youth entangled in the school-prison nexus.