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Students promote Martin Luther King’s values

Who in Chicago schools is carrying out Martin Luther King’s teachings about the importance of finding peaceful methods to resolve conflicts?

For that matter, who’s responding to the recent guidelines from the U.S. Departments of Justice and Education on civil rights and school discipline, urging a reduction of zero-tolerance policies that target minority youth?

One group is doing both: the students carrying out restorative justice programs in Chicago schools, with little support from the central administration.

Uplift Community High School student volunteers in the school’s Peace Ambassadors program will be honored for carrying on Dr. King’s legacy in a recognition ceremony on Friday, January 17, at 9:30 a.m. The school is located at 900 W. Wilson.

Uplift’s Peace Ambassadors use peer conferencing to resolve disputes that have resulted in minor misbehavior.  Students reflect on the impact of their actions and create an agreement for repairing the harm and addressing underlying issues to prevent its recurrence.

Students have gained crucial interpersonal skills while detentions and suspensions have been reduced and the school climate improved, said Ana Mercado of Alternatives, Inc., which trains students for the program.

Recent studies have confirmed that CPS leads the nation in suspension rates, particularly for black students with disabilities.

Advocates have long called on CPS to institute restorative justice on a district-wide basis, including charter schools, some of which continue to feature punitive disciplinary policies.



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