Creating Restorative Schools


Creating Restorative Schools

Setting Schools Up to Succeed

By: Martha A. Brown Ph.D.

Publication date: February 2018
ISBN: 978-1-937141-22-6

Creating Restorative Schools is based on Martha Brown's study of two middle schools in the Oakland Unified School District that are making the shift to a restorative model. The book maps the route from school cultures of zero tolerance to those cultivating healthy and vibrant relational ecologies at all levels. Addressing the potential pitfalls of implementing such a deep change in school culture, Martha shows how nurturing relationships builds the capacity to make the shift and negotiate the challenges. Restorative schools emerge as places where people want to be—where teachers want to teach and students want to learn.


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Title information

Martha Brown travelled to two middle schools in Oakland, California to study what the shift to a restorative paradigm looks like from the perspectives of various members of the school community. At the time of the study, these schools were mid-way in the transition from a punitive model of discipline to a whole-school restorative one. Martha's comparison of the two schools' experiences with Restorative Justice in Education (RJE) encompasses the myriad factors which contribute to outcomes:  monetary resources, time and personnel resources, preparation and willingness to change, turnover rates, and make-up of the larger community.  We hear from teachers, students, administrators, and other staff describing how the change looks from their perspectives—in school structures, people, and classrooms. Martha analyzes the relationship between change theory and relational ecologies, covering the themes of trust, being heard, student-centered culture, and commitment to social justice.  She encourages the reader to push deeper into the paradigm shift by considering the impact of racial biases on African American students, for whom interventions did not always result in meaningful change, and what it means to become culturally competent. Finally, Martha brings the discussion of RJE to a broader arena, discussing actions for policy makers, putting RJE into teacher and leader education programs, and building a restorative community base.


Pages: 360
Language: English
Publisher: Living Justice Press
Edition: 1st
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Martha A. Brown Ph.D.

Praise for Creating Restorative Schools

Nancy Riestenberg,  Restorative Practices Specialist, Minnesota Department of Education: "In Creating Restorative Schools, Martha Brown describes directly the challenges and benefits of moving the entire school staff towards a restorative culture. The process is not a straight line, and the side roads are many. The story of the two schools’ paths provides directions and cautions, essential insight for any educator working to implement Restorative Justice in Education principles and practices in their school."                                                                                    

Randy Compton, President, Co-Founder Restorative Solutions, Inc., Boulder, CO: "This book is perhaps one of the best books on restorative justice in schools written. It’s a 'must read' for anyone interested in a truly honest and practical approach to becoming a fully restorative school.

Sylvia Clute, President, Alliance for Unitive Justice: "Beginning with her courageous assertion, 'There simply is no place for punishment in schools,' Martha Brown provides a map for replacing punishment with restorative processes that are healing, produce lasting results, and are cost effective. She recognizes that RJ is not an easy fix, but she makes a compelling case for teaching our youth the values used in circle processes to resolve conflicts, because they strengthen the school community and will also serve them throughout life. This important contribution to Restorative Justice literature takes a conclusive stand for leaving zero tolerance in the dust bin of educational theory and, instead, investing our time, energy, and tax dollars in school-wide restorative practices."        

Brenda Morrison, Author and Director of the Centre for Restorative Justice at Simon Fraser University and Assistant Professor of Criminology, Simon Fraser University: "Deep relational ecologies are the heart of RJE. Within this deeply reflective ecology, Martha Brown maps out how we are all practitioners, researchers, trainers and theorists. To engage in this transformational journey at the core of educational praxis, we must learn and grow together. RJE is a journey, not a destination. Martha has gathered the wisdom of our times through engaging the voice of students, teachers, administrators, academics and practitioners. With this visionary map in hand, we are ready to take the next steps."