AFT Resolution


WHEREAS, there is a crisis of criminalization in this current generation of our nation's youth, which has come to be known as the "school-to-prison pipeline," that begins with student suspensions, expulsions, push-outs, referrals to alternative institutions, and arrests in our public schools that increases and exacerbates our nation's tragedy of mass incarceration; and

WHEREAS, there are decades of research that demonstrate punitive and reactionary discipline measures heighten the incidence and severity of the behaviors they are designed to reduce in our public schools; and

WHEREAS, punitive approaches are not making our schools and communities any safer but instead discourage, demean, and criminalize our children and have resulted in an unacceptable and unnecessary number of suspensions, expulsions, push-outs, referrals to alternative institutions, and arrests; and

WHEREAS, these harsh disciplinary practices, also known as "zero tolerance," further result in the loss of valuable instruction time, cause students to dropout, and not only increase the risk of contact with law enforcement agencies and the juvenile court system, but ultimately help to swell the numbers of persons who are unemployed, in need of public welfare, and plagued by mental health issues; and

WHEREAS, in a learning environment where student behavior issues are not properly addressed, there exists a climate which is both unwholesome and unsafe for students and school staff which negatively impacts the academic performance of the school; and

WHEREAS, our public schools need to implement and develop disciplinary systems that work with our students and not against them, by transitioning to comprehensive restorative justice philosophy and practice in order to integrate social and emotional learning into the curriculum, incorporate the necessary wraparound services, create a safe and respectful environment for everyone in the school, and prepare our students to become productive citizens; and

WHEREAS, restorative justice philosophy and practice in schools teaches children to understand the impact of their behavior, take responsibility, repair the harm they have done and restore relationships; and

WHEREAS, in most cases so far, the move from zero tolerance to restorative justice has been a change in rhetoric only, without the necessary personnel, training and resources needed to fulfill the intentions and stated objectives of the program:

RESOLVED, that the American Federation of Teachers will advocate that every school that receives public funds adopt the restorative justice philosophy and restorative justice practices and support systems, including but not limited to counseling, intervention, peace circles, peer juries, peer mediation, conflict resolution, restitution and community service; and

RESOLVED, that the AFT will advocate that all school administration, staff, and security personnel be trained in the basic philosophy and critical practices of restorative justice; and

RESOLVED, that the AFT will advocate that the students, parents, community members, legislators, and public be educated about the basic philosophy and critical practices of restorative justice; and

RESOLVED, that the AFT will advocate for funds to place restorative justice coordinators/trainers and support staff in every school with the goal of promoting positive learning environments that foster meaningful student relationships to develop self-worth, cultivate emotional well-being, culturally relevant and culturally responsive curriculum, and help produce responsible citizens.


Please note that a newer resolution, or portion of a resolution, may have superseded an earlier resolution on the same subject. As a result, with the exception of resolutions adopted at our most recent AFT convention, resolutions do not necessarily reflect current AFT policies.