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“Building Bridges: An Alternative to School Suspension” is Released

“Building Bridges: An Alternative to School Suspension” is Released

Chicago, Illinois

Out of school suspension does not teach a child accountability and it also takes them out of a learning environment, many times with enormous negative consequences. Recurrence and arrest rates on school campuses are rising. The suspended students get behind in their schoolwork, typically are home alone because their parents are working, playing video games or watching television or getting involved in more dangerous activities.

"Building Bridges: An Alternative to School Suspension" is a solution offered by author and revered social worker Michelle Rappaport, who has been working with children in all levels of education for over 25 years. She began to see patterns among the kids in her school that were suspended. She questioned, "What did the out-of-school suspension experience teach these kids?" Rappaport developed the "Building Bridges" program as a creative alternative to out of school suspension that focuses on correcting thinking errors, restorative justice, cognitive behavioral principles and providing therapeutic interventions as a way to improve school behavior and as a result raise productivity and school attendance.

Additionally, the children do not get behind in their schoolwork as they are directed to do their schoolwork while participating in the "Building Bridges" program. Many times getting additional help in a subject that needs attention. The "Building Bridges" program saves schools MILLIONS of dollars and keeps our kids on the right track.

The Building Bridges program will not fix everything nor will changes that do occur necessarily be immediate or apparent. But Building Bridges is taking a step in the right direction. It is movement that will lead to students learning the skills to take responsibility for their actions; taking ownership for their choices; and the beginning of learning some alternatives and strategies to make better decisions in the future. Listen to Michelle share her story and a little about the Building Bridges program, http://youtu.be/F2NoJdEBwPw.

An outside evaluation of the Building Bridges program by researchers at Loyola University Chicago School of Education is currently underway. Preliminary findings are that students with serious emotional issues who participated in the Building Bridges program following a major discipline referral went a statistically significantly longer period of time (e.g. number of school days) before having another recurrence compared to those that did not participate in the Building Bridges program (Engler, L; Rappaport, M; Hernadez, C; Jabines, February, 2014).


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