100: Rethinking School Discipline Part 2

Robin Matthies, Director of Public and Behavioral Health Integration at ASTHO, explains why it’s important to consider restorative justice approaches to discipline in schools; Andy Baker-White, ASTHO’s Senior Director of State Health Policy, says...

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Robin Matthies, Director of Public and Behavioral Health Integration at ASTHO, explains why it’s important to consider restorative justice approaches to discipline in schools; Andy Baker-White, ASTHO’s Senior Director of State Health Policy, says jurisdictions have policy options when promoting vaccinations among workers; and ASTHO is hiring for several open positions.

ASTHO Reports: Restorative Justice in Schools – An Upstream Approach for Addressing Inequities in the Risk of Incarceration

ASTHO Webpage: Job Opportunities in Public Health and at ASTHO

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This is Public Health Review Morning Edition for Wednesday, January 19th, 2022. I'm Robert Johnson. 
Now, the 100th episode, featuring news from the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials.

A new report from ASTHO examines the value of restorative justice in schools and how this approach to discipline could help divert kids away from even more trouble as they become adults. 
Yesterday, ASTHO's Maggie Davis reviewed the report and shared examples of work some states are doing in this policy area. Today, her colleague Robin Matthies tells us why this approach is so important. It's today's morning conversation. 
We heard Maggie Davis talk yesterday about some of the policy actions states and territories are taking to address these concerns. From your perspective, how can these policies improve conditions for kids and help keep them out of trouble? 
First and foremost, I think it's important to say that these policies can't exist in a vacuum—like multiple things need to happen to really make something successful in terms of helping young folks be able to stay out of the juvenile justice system and then, in the future, out of prison. 
And I think, though, these policies specific to restorative justice in schools is one really good way to help keep kids in school; because what we know is that if kids are expelled or suspended, they're much more likely to be part of that school-to-prison pipeline, which means that they are much more likely to be passed through the juvenile justice system and be incarcerated as adults. 
You're one of the authors of the report. Why should someone in a state or territory take the time to go through this? 
The reason that we wrote the report was because one of the adverse childhood experiences is having a parent or family member who's incarcerated. And we went for a more upstream approach, which was looking at youth who are at risk of being incarcerated because, as we know, incarceration is a cyclical process; so, when a family member or parent has been incarcerated, a young person is much more likely to be put through the juvenile justice system and/or be incarcerated as an adult. 
So, looking at keeping them in school is one strategy to keep them out of prison and, you know, have more of an opportunity to be able to live their best life and thrive, and not be put through that system and have less opportunity because they've been through the juvenile justice system or incarcerated. 
The report provides a lot of detail about the benefits of restorative justice in schools, but what's the human argument? Why is it so important that we get this right? 
So, there can be a lot of arguments made, and I'm going to make one in particular, and that is that there's significant racial disparities in who is being incarcerated—and that tends to be young Black men. And so, keeping kids in school, especially Black children—who are more likely to also be suspended and expelled—will help to reduce that racial disparity and hopefully help to keep young Black men from being incarcerated. 
And again, when we're looking back at that whole idea that it's cyclical, and when you grow up with a family member who has been incarcerated, it is much more likely that you will be. So, taking earlier steps to reduce the likelihood can only do well by that community, but also by anyone who is at risk of, you know, being pushed through the juvenile justice system and then potentially being incarcerated. 
You can download a copy of the new report using the link in the show notes. 

The Supreme Court's decision to block a federal vaccinate-or-test mandate for businesses with 100 or more employees was not the ruling many were hoping for, but ASTHO's Andy Baker-White says that doesn't mean states and territories are out of options. 
It made me think of a bill in Massachusetts last year that would have provided an individual tax credit for anyone who received the COVID-19 vaccine. You know, states could do the same for employers as well—you know, kind of create tax credits. Or they can, you know, kind of go and more use-the-stick route—so to speak—and, you know, perhaps even make, you know, vaccine coverage of their employees an employer licensing requirement. 
Among the alternatives, Baker-White says policy makers could pass requirements that employers provide paid time off for vaccinations and COVID-19-related sick leave or wellness programs that reward workers for getting their shots. Unfortunately, he says many legislatures are thinking about restricting vaccine requirements rather than promoting vaccinations. 

Finally this morning, it's Wednesday, and that means it's time to report on ASTHO job openings. 
The organization is hiring a specialist in accounts payable and receivable, a senior analyst for evaluation and assessment, and an analyst working on preparedness projects. 
You can find more information about these and many other jobs using the link in the show notes. 

That'll do it for today's 100th report. 

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Be sure to us again tomorrow morning for more ASTHO news and information. 
I'm Robert Johnson. You're listening to Public Health Review Morning Edition. Have a great day. 

Robin Matthies MSW

Director of Public and Behavioral Health Integration, ASTHO

Andy Baker-White JD MPH

Senior Director, State Health Policy, ASTHO