The July issue of IB has an article on p. 85 describing how Peoria's Manual High is practicing what many enlightened and concerned citizens believe; that a kid's peers have more influence on a kids life than do parents. The article titled, "A Different Kind of Jury" set up by the Children's Home Association of Illinois, details how "peer" juries can help change the direction of a kids life.
"Peer juries use the philosophy of 'restorative justice' as the cornerstone of the program. the philosophy guides how we respond to misbehavior, conflict and crime", says Program Coordinator Lori Brown. "It says that everyone affected should come together and discuss the situation and how to move forward."
After a review of the large numbers of youth detained and arrested at school, many questions were asked. The peer jury system is modeled after the success of a Chicago High School. The Manual principal and Carl Cannon decided to try the system at Manual. Twelve volunteers were given 2 eight hour training sessions.
The systems appears to be working with the major problem being the lack of funds. As a start up grant, the system may come to an end which, it appears, would be unfortunate. The money appears to have come from the MacArthur Foundation.
It would appear to me, the #150's immense budget, that it wouldn't take much money to keep it running. Take away the special T-shirts, I don't see how this program would take a lot of money. Cannon and the principals are salaried, aren't they?
Here is how the system at Marshall High is working: (Source, Chicago Tribune, Editorial page 16, dated July 5, 2011) "The Chicago Public Schools district replaces school leadership and staff, revamps curriculum, beefs up security, (sounds as if they could use the Peoria Manual system)and brings in extra social workers to revive troubled schools. (Sounds like Marshall could solve the funding problem by bringing in social workers and dispense with the buying of new shirts each time the juries change students)
Having been around for a long time and being a former teacher, nothing said in either of these articles is new to me. It has all been tried but the problem always seems to be "sustainability" with the right people available to guide the students.
Carl Cannon appears to be one of the "right" people.
Anyway, it is always nice to read about positive things being written about our public school systems. If you read the two articles, you will note all pictured are black. Any causal observer will note that most programs to benefit school kids revolve around black participants. Which leads me to comment on the near riot at Taft Homes this week. (Van Auken was wrong, has been wrong too many times to continue to serve as a City Councilwoman. Paul Wilkinson and other like C.J Summers (The Peoria Chronicle blog) are trying to call attention to escalating problems in our community.
Me, I just continue to point out that this community has had it's priorities askew for too long a time and it may be to late to correct now. My cry of, "Wake up, Peoria, has basically gone unheeded by the media and the elite leadership.
So sad. So much good and too much bad.