School and RJ…

Sept 6, 2016

Vancouver Sun – Tracy Sherlock
B.C. educators look to bring restorative justice to the classroom

The article offers some insight into the potential of an RJ approach to set lacking connections that result in mis-behaviour in schools.  Teachers are taught the use of the circle and discipline involves support rather than suspensions and expulsion. (How very much like the isolate and punish model in our prisons!) Kudos to Dr. Brenda Morrison, director at the Centre for Restorative Justice, and her team at Simon Fraser.   Related article: Tyee – Jeremy Nuttall New Guide Created to Combat Islamophobia in Schools  National Council of Canadian Muslims (NCCM)   A Guide for Educators: Helping Students Deal with Trauma Related to Geopolitical Violence and Islamophobia    Related article: Toronto Star – Andrea Gordon and Kristen Rushowy     Ontario parents worry about special education support – Changes to autism services mean an influx of kids needing added help in the classroom

The Tyee – Cherise Seucharan
Working a Lot, for a Little: Low-Wage Workers Struggle to Get By

Here’s a chance to go beyond the dreadful statistics and get an idea of the strains and pressures from everyday life at minimum wage or low salary.  The story is framed by visits with three women who though employed full time are far from enjoying any real reward.  Says Patricia of Victoria, BC:  “You feel kind of like you’re stuck in adolescence almost, because at 32, I’m not anywhere in a different position than I was at 22.”

NBC News (US) – Safia Samee Ali
Federal Prison-Owned ‘Factories With Fences’ Facing Increased Scrutiny

Did you know that the US prison system has its own Federal Prisons Industries operating under the brand name UNICOR?  The prison labour makes from 23 cents to $1.15 an hour to manufacture clothing, military helmets, and a variety of products.  The process is justified on the grounds that it keeps many jobs at home rather than losing them to overseas operation and teaches useful skills on release. While FPI does not get appropriations from Congress – it is expected to operate profitably especially with a wage advantage – the company has been in financial turmoil for over a decade.

CBC News – Elizabeth Thompson
Trudeau government rejects e-petition to lift restrictions on AR-15 -Gun owners and gun control advocates take stand on rifle ahead of fall sitting of Parliament

One of the first e-petitions to go before the Canadian Parliament has been very pointedly shot down.  The decision over what constitutes a prohibited weapon used to be in the hands of the RCMP but the previous Conservative government took away that decision to foster favour with the gun lobby.  The AR-15, a mild variant of the M-16 assault rifle, is the weapon most commonly showing up in the recent spate of mass shootings in the US.  The answer, says Ralph Goodale, is no!  In 2015, the gun ownership in Canada has increased by just under 10%, likely in response to stepped up advertising in the US creeping north.

Globe and Mail – Linda Givetash, Canadian Press
UBC-led study makes key fetal alcohol spectrum disorder discovery

Scientists at UBC have had some break-through in the ability to diagnose fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD).  The discovery follows a study of DNA in 110 children with FASD compared to a normal sample.  The process of methylation appears to control the reaction of certain genes and shows statistically significant patterns for children with FASD.  The real benefit of the discovery seems to be the potential for researchers to now zero in on the genes and patterns.

Globe and Mail – Editorial (Sept. 4, 2016)
Who gets to decide what ‘Canadian values’ are?

The paper is reacting to the e-mail query by Kelly Leitch to her conservative leadership followers on whether the Canadian government should screen immigrants and refugees for “anti-Canadian values.”  Bravo for the stance the Globe and Mail has taken:  “The suggestion that there are government-defined “Canadian values” is frightening. In this country, new citizens swear an oath to “faithfully observe the laws of Canada and fulfill [their] duties as a Canadian citizen.” There are no prescribed religious or cultural beliefs, just a vow to respect our constitution and our laws, and to accept the consequences of failing to do so.”

Blogger Russell Webster (UK)
Is prisoners’ contact with families & friends sufficient?

Prison policy inevitably struggles with issues around family visits to inmates, particularly when the prisons are far from the family home and there are children involved.  Webster, in the context of a recent report from the British Inspectorate of Prisons, insists that a robust opportunity to connect with family is a major factor in preventing re-offending.   Inspectorate Report:  (An 18 page downloadable pdf) Life in prison: Contact with families and friends