A new Web site sponsored by McGraw-Hill Education’s Urban Advisory Resource is directed towards school administrators, especially those working in urban areas. The forum, District Leader’s Podcast districtleaderspodcast.org, is “the only national podcast created expressly for district leaders. Many features included are interviews each week with different district leaders from around the country.” There are 25 sessions available to listen to, with the most recent being a Superintendent from a school district in Texas. Many of the podcasts deal with violence and delinquency in schools and conflict resolution techniques.
Administrators new to the field of conflict resolution may be interested in reviewing a debate that occurred back in 1993-94 regarding the role and effectiveness of school-based violence prevention and conflict resolution programs. The debate was played out in the journal Health Affairs. To see the articles in question, try this link to their archives search tool.
We’ve come a long way since then in terms of research and sophistication in program design and delivery, but it is interesting to review the issues in a historical perspective.
With the growth of YouTube as a medium of expression and information sharing, we are also seeing it used to promote Peer Mediation activity. Here are some examples that might inspire creative content producers at your school.
Romeo High School in Michigan (RHS) Peer Mediation Video (8:37) This video pulls together various clips from a High School mediation program, including providing evidence of increased awareness about the program. Nicely done.
Also, see this informative report on the program available as a pdf. It includes statistics on the program and sample materials used by the student mediators.
More Peer Mediation Club Activities at RHS (6:12) This video shows more of the activities the peer mediation students do interacting with other schools in the district.
Peer Mediation (better than a Light Saber Battle to the Death?) (3:37) This humorous student-produced video promotes peer mediation in their school.
Los Angeles Dispute Resolution Services (DRS) Peer Mediation Video (10:55) This video documents some systemwide activities in Los Angeles County.
Hoku Kubota Peer Mediation Training (a Hawaiian School) (2:00)
This video provides a quick glimpse at a mediation training happening in a Hawaiian school, giving a sense that mediation is happening “all over” the world.
For an even more international feel, check out this video on a college peer mediation program in the Netherlands. Hope you speak Dutch!
A February 2007 report issued by the NYC Public Advocate Betsy Gotbaum notes that “the DOE is not doing enough to ensure that conflict resolution training and services are supported in city schools.” This conclusion is based on a survey of 158 administrators designed to glean administrators’ perspective on DOE school safety policies, including the degree to which those policies cultivate an atmosphere conducive to teaching and learning. The survey also asked administrators for the rates of incidents and superintendent suspensions in their schools during the 2004-2005 and 2005-2006 school years. Finally, the survey asked administrators about the number of teachers in their schools who had received conflict resolution training and the degree to which conflict resolution training and programming is a part of day-to-day life in their schools. The full report, entitled Between Policy and Reality: School Administrators Critical of Department of Education School Safety Policy, is available online. A primary concern is that there has been a shift away for social-emotional learning and conflict resolution education and toward a policing and “get tough” policy despite explicit support for CRE.
As noted in the report, “The New York City Department of Education’s Citywide Standards of Discipline and Intervention Measures state that ‘[a]dministrators, teachers, counselors, and other school staff are expected to engage with students, including students with disabilities, in intervention and prevention strategies that address the student’s behavioral issues…and family circumstances: social/emotional learning, such as conflict resolution/mediation/negotiation…’. To this end, the DOE offers voluntary conflict resolution professional development training for teachers and administrators. Additionally, the state provides various funding streams for complementary programming, such as the Violence Prevention and Extended Day grant.”
A couple of key findings related to teacher training in Conflict Resolution:
98 percent of high school administrators report that no teachers, or just “a few”, in their schools have received any conflict education and/or resolution training.
82 percent of administrators at all levels report that no teachers, or just “a few”, have received conflict education and/or resolution training.
The Report cites New York University Professor of Education Pedro Noguera’s warning that, “[s]chools that rely on security guards and metal detectors to create safety may end up creating an environment that is so repressive that it is no longer conducive to learning.” Referring to the success of community policing initiatives, Prof. Noguera asserts that safety is “ultimately a by-product of social relationships and from the willingness of the members of a community to look out for each other and hold one another accountable.”
The Public Advocate’s office followed up with a second study of conflict resolution service providers. The report from this study, released in May of 2007 is entitled Conflict Unresolved: DOE Fails to Recognize What Works in School Safety and Student Achievement. A quick review of this study is posted in our Researcher’s Blog.