Sunday, August 21, 2016


One of the most controversial programs Mayor Bill de Blasio and Chancellor Carmen Farina have implemented in schools is restorative justice. This is where students who violate the discipline code can talk about what they have done instead of being punished.

For a positive look on the process, see here.  There is an altercation but instead of suspending the kids who fight, they meet to talk about what happened with a trained mediator to try to reach an understanding.

Critics complain this is "touchy-feely alternative punishment."  Not Surprisingly, this quote is from the NY Post. They argue schools are less safe under this approach and cite national statistics to make the case.

What does this have to do with Walmart?

The retail giant with their short staffing business approach has a major crime problem at many of its stores. Walmart is a huge drain on local police resources in numerous communities. Their solution is restorative justice. I am not kidding. This is from Time:

To combat crime and ease the burden on law enforcement, Walmart has begun a novel experiment: deal with shoplifters internally by meting out its own version of law and order through an initiative called "Restorative Justice." The idea is to give some accused shoplifters, such as first-time offenders, the option of completing an online remedial program designed to deter through education, rather than jail time.

The program, which offenders must pay an undisclosed sum to take but doesn't involve the police, employs an approach sometimes found in schools and prisons, which emphasizes rehabilitation and reconciliation between offender and the community. Walmart spokesperson Brian Nick says the initiative is reducing police runs requiring officers to come to Walmart and "hopefully giving people a second chance."

Restorative justice is a favored policy of some on the left while Walmart epitomizes the right. The left and right have actually come together here on an alternative to punishment.

Oh the irony! Is this the ultimate Kumbaya moment?

My opinion for what it's worth is restorative justice can only work in schools if teachers buy in and if kids still know there are real consequences if they misbehave. Once students know restorative justice can be used to play the system and even to blame teachers, it will fail. Forcing restorative justice on schools is a mistake.

As for Walmart, they hate the government except when they use and abuse it. I will leave it to Time again:

There are questions about Walmart's role in the crime at its stores. The company has expanded over the years with a deliberately lean staffing model, potentially leaving the stores vulnerable to shoplifting, says Burt Flickinger, managing director at Strategic Resource Group, a retail consulting firm. The company has historically tried to keep labor costs as low as possible, an approach that goes back to the store's founding, and Flickinger says that has meant relying heavily on local police departments for store security. He estimates that there are 400,000 fewer Walmart workers in the U.S. today compared with 10 years ago, potentially leaving stores even more vulnerable to crime.

Carmen Farina and Walmart certainly have short staffing classrooms and stores in common.

Further down Time reports on the third party that administers the restorative justice at Walmart:

The San Francisco City Attorney is currently suing one of Walmart's third-party vendors responsible for administering restorative justice courses-Corrective Education Company-for overcharging people accused of shoplifting and falsely imprisoning them while they're taking the course. The lawsuit alleges that some retailers take suspected shoplifters "to a secluded area in the back of the store" to show them a video produced by CED. One woman was reportedly asked to pay $500 to take CEC's course after she was accused of stealing items worth $6.97 from a Goodwill Industries store.

Oh well I guess Kumbaya may have to wait a little longer as Walmart is still trying to stick it to shoplifters while the Department of Education uses restorative justice to mistreat staff. Since Walmart certainly agrees with mistreating employees, maybe there is room for some collaboration between the two in this area.


Anonymous said...

On-line remedial program? Did I read that right? In Newark, we have to sit around in Restorative Justice circles. They are charging the alleged offenders money to participate in the program. Is Gates involved?

Abigail Shure

Anonymous said...

Laugh out loud.

Bronx ATR said...

I was in an upstate Walmart last week and went to use the restroom. There was a big sign over the urinal saying 'Shoplifting can seriously impact your life". Right under the sign, on the top of several of the urinals, were opened empty plastic packages. I don't think restorative justice is working for Walmart's either - but at least as an ATR I was allowed access to the restroom.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps they should have separate bathrooms for ATRs, like they had for Blacks in the South under the Jim Crow laws. Although they'd much prefer we shit or pissed in our pants. Humiliation and then a 3020a for unprofessional behavior. The UFT, what a union.

Anonymous said...

LOL again on the comments. Finally some gallows humor for us teachers.