Class Year


Access Type

Open Access

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts

Department or Program

Education Department

First Advisor

Maria Hantzopoulos


The rise of standardized testing and zero­tolerance discipline measures in the United States over the last decade has resulted in public schools that prioritize order and obedience over deep learning and interpersonal relationships. While detrimental across the board, these austere measures have done particular harm to low­income students of color in cities, many of whom have been pushed out of schools and into the criminal justice system for minor misbehaviors­­ a phenomenon scholars and activists have termed the “school­to­prison pipeline.” However, resistance to the criminalization of vulnerable students has blossomed in New York City in recent years. One of the primary ways educators and advocates have engaged in this resistance is through discipline practices based in restorative justice, rather than punitive, or retributive justice. This movement for restorative justice in schools is counteracting the effects of the school­to­prison pipeline, in addition to cultivating democratic and caring school communities. In this thesis I describe and analyze interviews with nine educators in three different NYC public schools in order to illuminate how restorative justice actually works in schools that practice it , and how it constitutes a powerful challenge to the zero­ tolerance logic that has permeated the way we think about safety and learning.