The School System Is Plagued By Violence And Chaos — And They’re Cooking The Stats To Keep It A Secret

RobMattingley. Getty Images. Two women fight at a sporting event while the rest of the crowd look on.
RobMattingley. Getty Images.

There’s an inconvenient paradox that, at one point or another, every social justice scholar has to wrestle with. And that paradox is this: Even as the entire country forcibly implements every single one of their wish-list items — no matter how extreme or untethered from reality — the result is that people’s lives get objectively worse. And I’m not just talking about a little worse. Pretty much everyone’s life gets measurably worse, by a lot.

If you have a child in a public school system, you know that students have suffered in particular. But you may not realize how stark the decline has been, because no one’s really reported on the specific numbers. A couple of years ago, the Department of Education took a look at serious incidents occurring in public schools in the 2009-2010 school year. Then they compared that data with the number of serious incidents that occurred a decade later, in the 2019-2020 school year (which was mostly pre-pandemic). 

This is what’s known in the statistics biz as a “longitudinal” analysis — and if there’s one thing Leftists hate, it’s longitudinal analysis. You’re not supposed to think about the past because, if you do that, you might realize it was a lot better than the current progressive experiment we’re all living through.

And as the Department of Education found, that’s especially true in schools. The percentage of public schools reporting “widespread disorder in the classroom” at least once per week, increased by more than 60% from 2009 to 2019. I’ll say that again. Rates of “widespread disorder in the classroom” jumped by more than 60% in a decade. Meanwhile, the percentage of public schools reporting “student verbal abuse of teachers” at least once per week, as well as “cyberbullying,” increased by more than 100%. “Racial and ethnic tensions” among students increased by more than 30%.

How could that be? This was the era of Barack Obama and teachable moments. This was the era we learned that gender is a social construct. This was the era that pride parades became mandatory in every major city in the country. It was also, you might remember, the era that every newspaper and media outlet in the country began harping about police brutality. This was the decade of Michael Brown, Trayvon Martin, Eric Garner, Tamir Rice, Philando Castile, Alton Sterling, and so on. BLM and racial tolerance were on the upswing.

Could all of this Left-wing social engineering have backfired? Could it be the reason schools were now far more chaotic and dangerous than ever?

WATCH: The Matt Walsh Show

Confronted with this problem, school administrators had two choices. They could have admitted that the progressive experiment was failing, and started disciplining students and restoring order — without regard to skin color or ethnicity or anything like that. Or they could come up with a way to cook the statistics. 

In the end, they decided on the latter option. And the hysteria of the so-called “racial reckoning” post-George Floyd gave them their opening. As the BLM moral panic overtook the world back in 2020, the idea of “restorative practices” or “restorative justice” took hold in schools all over the country.

A new report from the parental rights group “Parents Defending Education” found that more than 18,000 schools — across more than 500 school districts — now have these “restorative” policies in place. It is ubiquitous. In late 2020, school officials trumpeted this approach as a major breakthrough.

For example, here’s how the Coachella Valley Unified School District in California framed the arrival of restorative justice:

So in the name of “restorative justice,” they stop detentions and suspensions in this school district — which covers more than a dozen schools across 1,200 square miles. And what do you know? The number of suspensions went down. They stop suspending people, and therefore the number of suspensions goes down. We’re meant to believe this is a sign that the new approach is working.

But of course it’s not a sign it’s working. It’s the opposite. It’s the same reason the number of traffic citations in San Francisco has just gone to zero. It’s not because everyone in San Francisco drives perfectly now. It’s because the police stopped enforcing traffic laws (and shoplifting laws, and public urination laws, and every other law.)

As for the other claims about “restorative justice” — how it’s promoted “better relationships” in the school and so on — well, that’s not remotely accurate either. And we know that because, a little over a year after the report I just showed you, the reality of the situation became impossible to ignore. Armed with “restorative justice,” schools in Coachella Valley became much more violent. Watch:

This is why you have to be very careful whenever anyone cites statistics about crime or violence or any kind of dysfunction. They’ll say it’s going down. Meanwhile, you can go outside and talk to anyone, and they’ll tell you the opposite. That’s because the statistics are extremely easy to manipulate. Stop enforcing the rules, and the statistics will show that there are fewer rule-breakers.

Eventually, this news report gets around to acknowledging that. They make the observation that the number of suspensions has been plummeting, even as the fights are obviously becoming more common. And then they connect the dots with “restorative justice.” Watch:

This kind of slow, burning realization has played out all over the country in just the past few years. For example, around last Thanksgiving, a school in Memphis, Trezevant High, promoted its own “restorative practices.” They’re a little more vague than the Coachella school district, and they don’t use the term “restorative justice.”

But according to Parents Defending Education, in most cases, the two terms are basically interchangeable. Here’s what it means at Trezevant High:

Yes, “restorative practices” mean “being kind to each other” and “being responsible.” Before we had the social justice terminology of “restorative practices,” no one ever knew how to “be kind” or “responsible.” That’s the implication. Who needs religion or morality when you have social justice Leftism?

Well, not to spoil anything, but it turns out that we still need religion and morality — because “restorative practices” have been a disaster at Trezevant.

In just the past month, a student and a teacher got into a fight on camera, and a student allegedly popped off some shots on school grounds.

Anyone looking at this school knows that “restorative practices” aren’t the solution to this chaos. Being “kind” isn’t working out. These students (and the parents and teachers, apparently) don’t need to be told how wonderful they are. They’re completely out of control.

So are the students in the majority-black Hazelwood School District in Missouri. During the BLM insanity, Hazelwood put out a statement vowing to “promote restorative justice practices across our organization but in particular to reduce disparities around student discipline.” So they’re all-in on the whole ideology.

How’s that working out? What’s happened after years of efforts to “reduce disparities” and “restore justice”? This was the scene a couple of blocks away from school, back in March:

The white girl who was beaten suffered brain bleeding and a skull fracture. She spent a month in the hospital, followed by rehab.

In response to this footage, Missouri Attorney General Andrew Bailey said he wanted the attacker to be charged as an adult. He didn’t want restorative justice; he wanted actual justice. He also said he was investigating possible violations of human rights laws. He wrote, “I am launching an investigation into Hazelwood School District after a student was senselessly assaulted by another student in broad daylight. … The entire community deserves answers on how Hazelwood’s radical DEI programs resulted in such despicable safety failures that resulted in a student fighting for her life.” (Several of those DEI policies were unearthed by Libs of TikTok on her Twitter feed.)

Bailey also wrote that ““the absence of SROs [school resource officers] on the scene is directly attributable to Hazelwood’s insistence on prioritizing race-based policies over basic student safety.”

What did the Hazelwood school district do in response? You already know the answer to that question. They accused the attorney general of racism. The school district’s lawyer said that Bailey has, “obvious racial bias against majority minority school districts.” The lawyer also claimed that school resource officers, ‘“would not have prevented a fight from occurring off school property and outside of the school day.” And then they filed an ethics complaint against the attorney general. So basically, they’re absolving themselves completely. They have shown no signs whatsoever that they intend to revisit their commitment to “restorative justice.”

Of course, what’s happening in Missouri (and across the country) is a multi-faceted problem. “Restorative justice” isn’t helping, but it’s obviously not the sole cause of all of this chaos in schools. It starts with terrible parenting, which is maybe the single greatest predictor of dysfunction that exists in the world.

What “restorative justice” does is validate and absolve this dysfunction. Instead of making any real effort to correct it, the point is to enable it — while also hiding it from public view as much as possible.

We see the same approach to “restorative justice” in the criminal justice system, where the stakes are higher and the results, predictably, are even worse. In the nation’s capital, “restorative justice” means you can fire 26 rounds from an AR-15 at a moving vehicle, on camera, and get out of jail immediately. It means you can commit arson and attack police officers with impunity.

Where well-adjusted people see an obvious problem here, the promoters of “restorative justice” see a success story. The beatings will continue until the restorative justice improves. That’s their approach. In school districts all over the country, children are now living with the consequences.

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