The hands-on approach
Welcome to Room 120, Blaska Memorial middle school’s restorative justice room. You are here because you screwed up big-time.
We do real restorative justice here. This is not a daycare center. I am not a babysitter. I am the adult in the room. I speak, you listen. I teach, you learn.
I am your positive behavior coach. You call me MISTER Blaska. When I say “Sit in your assigned seat,” you say, “Yes, Mr. Blaska.”
Let me repeat what our new school district superintendent, Mr. Mueller-Owens, told you at the school assembly to start the school year: No, you cannot hit a teacher and, as you just learned, we can and do touch a disruptive student when need be. Teachers are not your punching bags. We will keep an orderly classroom.
I will help you straighten out but if you want to keep screwing up it is your decision. It’s your life, not mine. You need to know that Room 120 is the intersection of the school-to-prison pipeline the social justice warriors keep prattling about. If you want to come back to the sunlight, I will show you the way. If not, I’ll take you to our new middle school resource officer. His squad car is waiting outside. Your choice.
But I will fight like hell to keep you out of that squad car. Because I hate failure like I hate sin. Because you are NOT a victim, despite what the previous superintendent and the old school board kept saying. I don’t want to hear race, poverty, bad home life or any other excuses. If you have to work a little harder to overcome your adversities, then that is what you have to do. We will help you.
You are 11, 12, 13 years old. You are making your life this very day. Let me write it on the chalkboard:
S U C C E E D
Or be a Loser!
Your choice. Because you CAN succeed. Because we DO have a cure for poverty. It is called EDUCATION. This is the place where you get it. This is where we punch your ticket to a good job, a nice home, children that will make you proud, a community that will rejoice that you are their neighbor.
We have counsellors, nurses, special ed aides, Pathways for Progress, athletics, competitive sports, clubs, nurses, wholesome food and people who love you too much to see you fail.
Now give me 500 words on the apology you are going to read to your class tomorrow for what you did, why it was wrong and who you hurt.
Madison police chief Mike Koval
on the need for school resource
officers and the troubles at Tree Lane.