All posts by bfiggefox

Suspension? or Restorative Justice

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Guest post by Eileen Sinett for the website Not in Our Town Princeton. 

On April 12, 2018, at John Witherspoon Middle School, Dr. Anne Gregory of Rutgers University shared her research on restorative justice.  Restorative justice is an alternative method of treating students who are perceived to be defiant, disrespectful, and insubordinate. Instead of punishment in the form of suspension, restorative justice focuses on social and emotional learning as an attempt to improve and correct student behavior.  Rather than “exiling” a student through suspension, restorative justice helps students understand their thoughts and behavior, the harm it may cost others, and the healing that’s necessary to remain in school and to learn. The students confront their mistakes, are held accountable and are more likely to remain in school to graduate.

Dr. Gregory shared data showing that students with repeated suspensions are 20% less likely to graduate from high school or go to college and 3 times more likely to get in trouble with the police. Traditional disciplinary methods involving suspension and other punitive measures tend to support the “school to prison pipeline.”

The two groups most at risk for repeated school suspension are Black males and students with disabilities, both male and female.  In one study, teachers were asked to observe a video of a preschool class and determine which children were more likely become troublemakers.  The teachers wore glasses with eye-tracking software, allowing researchers to track eye movements.  The study showed that the observers tracked Black children more than White children, even though no disruptive behavior was demonstrated by any of the children. The experiment revealed implicit racial bias on the part of the teacher/observers.

There is evidence that restorative justice programs are helping students stay in school and become more active and engaged learners.  Developing social awareness, relationship skills, responsible decision-making, self-awareness (including implicit bias), and self-management (regulating emotions) for both staff and students are keys to the success of restorative justice.

Interventions involve Community Building Circles, where students and staff share vulnerabilities and have their voice heard. More intensive interventions involve restorative dialogue and re-entry circles. The goals are similar, to build trust and community, be supported emotionally and socially, make informed decisions, stay in the school system, and become better students.

Like all new initiatives, restorative justice programs have their problems. However, having committed leadership, staff training and prioritizing relationships over rules, and self-management over suspension are critical to success.

Reported by Eileen Sinett for the website Not in Our Town Princeton. 

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Jammin’ on Palmer Square

Guest post from Colleen Miller (thank you, Colleen!) 

Princetonians taking a stroll in the warmer weather in April might notice some unusual activity on Palmer Square. A swarm of volunteers and artists have descended on an empty storefront at 19 Hulfish Street, taking a ‘blank canvas’ of a retail shop and transforming it into an amazing, eclectic art gallery filled with a myriad of life and color.

The short-term pop-up art gallery – called ArtJam 2018 –  brings together professional artists, undiscovered artists who have experienced homelessness, and the community at large.

As a volunteer, I visited this week during gallery set up, and I can sincerely say I was “blown away” by the quality and quantity of beautiful art.

But buying cool art is not all ArtJam offers. Purchases of art at the gallery support HomeFront’s ArtSpace – a innovative therapeutic art program. ArtJam provides a double-dip experience. You can feel good twice because you are buying art you love and supporting a cause you can believe in.

Now in its ninth year, ArtJam has grown to over 100 participating artists, from Princeton and beyond. Original works by highly renown artists including Judith Brodsky, Jon Sarkin, Cynthia Groya and Gordon Gund are in the exhibition. Pieces from these professional artists are displayed alongside the works of HomeFront clients who have limited means but enormous talents.

Another cool feature is the “buy from the wall” aspect – when you buy an item, you can take it home immediately. The gallery continues to display a rotating collection of art for sale and will be hosting musicians, demos and meet-and-greets with the artists through April 29.

A wide variety of mediums are included — paintings, pottery, glassworks, jewelry, sculpture, and hand-sewn items from SewingSpace, another HomeFront art program.

Since its founding years ago, HomeFront (https://www.homefrontnj.org/) has worked to end family homelessness in Central New Jersey by breaking the cycle of poverty.  HomeFront has developed a sophisticated network of supportive housing and social services for very low-income families.

ArtSpace  (https://www.homefrontnj.org/artspace) often opens doors to new ways of thinking for HomeFront clients, fostering their creativity, self-esteem, and confidence, and helping to set them on a path to achieve independence.  The artists learn to reveal their voice and feel joy in their accomplishments.  Also offered is experience in entrepreneurial skills, empowering the artists to see value in their work as it is admired and purchased by others.  ArtJam is one way for them to exhibit and sell their work.

The ArtJam opening reception on Friday, April 13 is open to the public from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. at 19 Hulfish Street, Palmer Square in Princeton.  For a full calendar of ArtJam events, visit:  https://www.homefrontnj.org/artjam/

 ArtJam At A Glance 

Dates: Friday, April 13- Sunday, April 29

Location: 19 Hulfish Street, Palmer Square, Princeton, NJ

Opening Reception: Friday, April 13, 5-9 pm

Gallery Hours:  Monday through Wednesday, 12 noon to 6 p.m.; Thursday and Friday, 10 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. Saturday, 10 a.m.to 8:30 p.m.; Sunday, 12 noon to 5 p.m.

  ArtJam, April 13 -29 will feature works of over 100 artists. Proceeds will help support the artists and ArtSpace programs.

Safer children? Maybe not

20120610164834_00019ALiving three blocks from a school, I am continually surprised to see parents walking fourth graders to and fro. Yet I remember how my sister and I walked ourselves to school in every grade. As for my kids, I never accompanied my kids to the bus stop and often I didn’t keep tabs on where, in the neighborhood, they were.

Is it such a different world? This article in the Atlantic explains how today’s parents protect their children — and question whether that’s needed or effective.

Telling your story

 

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We all have a story to tell but sometimes we need help telling it.

I’m looking forward to a four-session workshop with Eileen Sinett  on Wednesday nights in April. If you want to take your communication skills up a couple of notches, consider joining me at the Four Points of Connection workshop starting April 4. Sinett will also offer a one-day version on May 9.

Honing my speaking skill is a theme for me this year. In January I joined a small group of women at Princeton Theological Seminary for a Women’s Voices workshop with Nancy Lammers Gross.  Half of us weren’t preachers; we all connected with each other as well as with our vocal chords. Lammers Gross repeats it on May 8 and 9.

What’s your story? How do you tell it?

(Illustration from Wikipedia: The Boyhood of Raleigh by Sir John Everett Millais, oil on canvas, 1870. A seafarer tells the young Sir Walter Raleigh and his brother the story of what happened out at sea

Sustaining an unsustainable life: where was Paul’s POLST form?

 

Many Princeton people will remember Paul Scharf. He pushed carts at McCaffrey’s, he came to the HUB, a Saturday night social activity at Princeton United Methodist Church, he attended services there.

In Richard K. Rein’s U.S. 1 Newspaper column this week is an account of an end-of-life experience that should NOT be happening. Paul could have been encouraged to sign an Advanced Care Directive (available at Princeton Senior Resource Center) or, better, to sign a POLST form.  It could have prevented his medical team at a nursing home from having to sustain his unsustainable life. A POLST form (Practitioner Orders for Life Sustaining Treatment) is not required by law, but in New Jersey it is strongly recommended. 

Paul can no longer talk to tell what he wants.

 

 

Next Continuing Conversation is 4/2/18

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Not in Our Town Princeton, a multi-racial, multi-faith group of individuals who stand together for racial justice and inclusive communities, sponsors this monthly series of small group conversations on first Mondays. 

It’s at the Princeton Public Library, and everyone is welcome to attend.

 

NIOT Princeton

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As many of you know, NOT IN OUR TOWN PRINCETON is a multi-racial, multi-faith group of individuals who stand together for racial justice and inclusive communities. Our focus is to promote the equitable treatment of all, and to uncover and confront white supremacy — a system which manipulates and pits all races and ethnicities against each other.

Our goal is to identify and expose the political, economic, and cultural systems which have enabled white supremacy to flourish, and to create new structures and policies which will ensure equity and inclusion for all. In our commitment to uncovering the blight of white supremacy on our humanity, we take responsibility to address it and eliminate it in all its forms through intentional action, starting with ourselves and our communities.

Our next general meeting, one in a long monthly series entitled “Continuing Conversations on Race & White Privilege” – is slated to take place in…

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New at the hospital 3/8

hospital house organ for blogpost On Thursday March 8 the Princeton Regional Chamber hosts Lori Gustave for its membership lunch at the Forrestal Marriott  Gustave is VP of business development at Penn Medicine, which has taken over (officially, merged with) University Medical Center. If you think you might be sick in the next couple of years, you might want to hear how about how Penn Medicine uses an
“advanced care strategy” and organizes it around the patient’s disease or condition.

As for me, for the next few months, I will not focus hospitals, medical care, nursing facilities. Somebody can tell me what she said.

White Supremacy Revisited

On Monday, March 5th, Not In Our Town Princeton will meet in the Princeton Public Library’s Community Room at 7pm for Continuing Conversations on Race and White Privilege. We will address the following topic:

What is white supremacy? Is it limited to outrageous acts or is it something more?  March’s Continuing Conversation will look at an expanded definition of the phrase as well as Not in Our Town’s revised mission statement.

For more information, click here.