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Charter Schools Lead the Way in Restorative Practices

Charter Schools Lead the Way in Restorative Practices

February 15, 2024

One of the key strengths of public charter schools is their flexibility and autonomy in decision-making, which enables them to adopt innovative approaches to education and student support. This flexibility extends to the implementation of restorative practices, allowing charter schools to tailor interventions to meet the unique needs of their students and communities.  

As a result, charter schools have been at the forefront of integrating restorative practices into their disciplinary frameworks and social-emotional learning programs. 

According to recent data from the National Center for Education Statistics’ School Survey on Crime and Safety, approximately 72% of charter schools have reported involving students in restorative practices, surpassing the percentage for district public schools by 14 percentage points. This statistic underscores the proactive approach that charter schools are taking towards creating inclusive and restorative school environments.  

There are several reasons why charter schools are best positioned to offer restorative practices: 

  1. Flexibility and autonomy lead to adaptive strategies.

Charter schools have the flexibility to design and implement restorative practices that align with their mission, values, and student demographics. This autonomy allows them to innovate and adapt strategies based on the specific needs and challenges of their communities. 

  1. Smaller learning communities prioritize relationships.

Many charter schools operate on a smaller scale compared to traditional public schools, fostering tight-knit learning communities where relationships are prioritized. This conducive environment enables more personalized and meaningful restorative interventions, promoting deeper understanding and reconciliation. 

  1. Focus on holistic approaches and social-emotional learning.

Charter schools often emphasize holistic approaches to education, including social-emotional learning (SEL) initiatives. Integrating restorative practices into SEL curriculum enhances students’ emotional intelligence, communication skills, and conflict resolution abilities, equipping them with essential life skills beyond academic achievement. 

  1. Community engagement within the greater community.

Charter schools typically have strong connections with their local communities, including parents, organizations, and businesses. Engaging various stakeholders in restorative practices initiatives fosters a sense of collective responsibility and investment in creating a positive school climate. 

  1. Commitment to equity and inclusion is inherent in charter schools.

Many charter schools serve diverse student populations, including underserved communities and marginalized groups. Restorative practices promote equity by addressing power imbalances, acknowledging individual experiences, and promoting healing and reconciliation across differences. 

By embracing restorative principles and investing in meaningful dialogue and reconciliation, charter schools are empowering students, fostering positive relationships, and laying the foundation for a more just and compassionate society. And they are leading the way for public schools. 

As partners in education, let us continue to support and advocate for restorative practices in charter schools and beyond, ensuring that every student has the opportunity to learn, grow, and thrive in a nurturing community.

Cynthia Xu is the senior manager of data and research at the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools. 

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