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Using interview data collected over a span of three months, this project serves as a case study and critique of the recent orientation toward restorative justice as an alternative to a punitive orientation and as a means to address racially disproportionate suspension rates in schools. In this paper, I argue that the attempts we see today to address disproportionate suspension rates and opt for less punitive methods of governance, in general, do little to undo a history of punitive discipline which upholds racial, economic, and gendered hierarchies. I am less concerned with the individual intention of every actor within the school. For the most part, the teachers and administrators I spoke to all prioritize the general safety and welfare of their students. That being said, teachers and administrators are responsible for addressing the systematic reliance on surveillance tactics, zero-tolerance policies, and exclusion, as these practices reinforce structural oppression at large. Moreover, I argue that attempts to achieve justice in schools will ultimately fail, enforcing the same systems they are trying to eliminate unless they are responsive to the hegemonic hierarchies and structural racism of larger American society.
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Schupack, Anna R., "When Punishment Doesn’t Work: The Ideology and Infrastructure of Restorative Justice in Public Schools" (2022). Senior Projects Spring 2022. 228.
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