Tone deaf? Anchorage lawmaker to legislate school ‘restorative justice’ mandate


Rep. Geran Tarr of Anchorage plans to offer legislation this year that will mandate “restorative justice” in schools in Alaska.

Restorative justice is a 180-degree difference from a zero-tolerance approach to discipline. It seeks to keep children in school, rather than suspend or expel them.

But it would also require expensive training to get it integrated throughout the schools in Alaska because teachers deal with classroom behavior management in different ways, depending on their own personality and the size and makeup of their classes. Districts and schools can all have their own approaches in Alaska’s vastly different communities.

Tarr has been attending a series of restorative justice seminars this year. Her plans for legislation were revealed by Anchorage School Board member Starr Marsett.

Marsett is no conservative, and said that she is generally not opposed to mandates. But even she bristles as the idea of another unfunded mandate for schools.

“Not that I don’t support mandates, but worry about it being an unfunded mandate. I certainly support the concept but don’t think we can afford any unfunded mandates,” Marsett said during her report about her recent attendance at the restorative justice workshops.

“Rep. Garen Tarr has been very passionate about this,” Marsett said.

The National Education Association explains restorative justice in schools as “a theory of justice that focuses on mediation and agreement rather than punishment. Offenders must accept responsibility for harm and make restitution with victims. The concept has been around for hundreds of years, with indigenous people, like the Maori, using restorative justice successfully in their communities for generations. In the late 20th century, restorative justice gained traction in the US and other countries as various groups sought to improve the effectiveness of the criminal justice system.”

“Restorative justice is a major cultural shift from a punitive model to a restorative model,” explained one proponent of the method, which is now used in the Oakland Unified School District in California. Bad behavior is corrected through a cooperative model that involves conversation, making restitution, and taking responsibility.

Critics say the Legislature failed to act on a reading bill last year, and that children haven’t been in school in Alaska for most of 2020, which makes the restorative justice initiative an odd choice for the Legislature to focus on.


  1. Group hug, everyone! I would think that students who have been suspended or expelled have already been through the group hugs, and talking about “their feelings” prior to the most punitive sentence. Those that are expelled are usually bad actors, waiting for the hook. There are a lot of things going on right now, Geran, and you pick this fight? Go back to the drawing board.

  2. Great! By keeping behaviorally challenged students in school to suck up the time of teachers counselors and principals and steal education away from the rest of their class, you take away all incentive to behave in school. What next empty out the prisons and send everybody home?

  3. So there is a man, who’s daughter was shot in a mass school shooting, in the lower 48.

    I can’t remember the details, but he wrote a book about this very thing. This thinking lead to a child with behavior problems, lead to him being allowed in school, until the day he snapped & did a mass school shooting.

    Is that what it’s going to take? A mass school shooting? Here? In Anchorage?

    How ??? Can we get through to these clueless people making decisions??

  4. This could be a heavy lift. The Maori comparison is basically false because Maoris have a long history of shared culture among their people. In a racially or economically segregated society typical of current day America, there is no cultural basis in many communities for this type of reconciliation. Might work with Alaska natives in certain villages where they are invested in the shared well being of their people .
    On the other hand, the punitive approach has proven itself a dismal failure. It’s been the standard for 300 years and look how well that has worked out.

    • No system will work when you take God out of the schools. Without God, you can’t define morality apart from what seems best…. Seeing that now changes weekly, it’s a wonder kids are even doing as well as they are. Changing “behavior systems” in a Godless society is akin to changing brands of sump pumps on the titanic.

      • Forgive me, but this is just not right. God is not a necessary element of morality, unless you contend that all gods are equal including those who advocate for cannibalism. In which case, cannibalism is god’s will.
        I’m a strong advocate of Christian morality. The part about taking care of the disadvantaged, the poor, the halt, the lame. Morality belongs in the school, but God is not a necessary part of it, even though I advocate for Jesus as council for the plaintiff.
        And by God, what do you mean? The Christian God? Which one? The Protestant God or the Roman Catholic God or the Orthodox God? What’s wrong with the Muslim God or the Wiccan God?

      • Who’s god? What will your kind do when it’s Muslims saying we need to have ‘god in school’? If you violate the Constitution which unequivically promotes the separation of church and state, you weaken the foundations upon which this country was founded. People came to America to get away from religious tyranny, telling them who to believe in and how to worship.

    • Greg R, Maori had a long history of eating other people. In fact I understand their name for ” Englishman” was long pig.
      Yeah, let’s look to them for fixing our schools.

      • Good one! They were undoubtedly warlike. If you weren’t Maori, you weren’t. But they had a culture within that structure that took care of everyone who belonged to the tribe. Perhaps we should look at extending the size and scope of the tribe lest we end up eating our own.

        • Greg,
          We used to have that tribe. They were called “Americans”. They stood together for liberty, personal responsibility, the pursuit of excellence, the rule of law, the concept of created equality, and faith in God.

          Perps like Ms. Tarr have us now subdivide into all sorts of hyphenated tribes.

          At some point in the hopefully not too distant future these Progressives, with no idea what they are progressing toward, will have us all subdivided back down to the tribe’s basic subset: the individual.

          At that point we can all get back to being individual Americans fully grasping the gifts we’ve been given by God, putting them to their best use for the ultimate benefit of our fellow man.

    • Violent crime rates were dropping for 25 years under the punitive approach. Removing violent criminals from our population was working pretty good. What needs to be changed is putting people in prison for being caught with drugs. THE “Drug War” is what has not worked.

  5. Restorative justice is already practiced in criminal justice & school discipline. Only it is not called that. It consists of treatment & counseling options and restitution. But its backed up by punishment. Punishment is important. For some reason progressives do not like the idea of punishment. But it is ultimately the basis of a good part of the administration of justice, especially when nothing else works. If somebody slashes my car tires I want to see some pain inflicted. It can be financial (including restitution), loss of freedom such as after school detention or grounding or jail/juevinile detention etc. Punishment is a good thing. As they say, let the punishment fit the crime.

  6. Someone needs to send that idiot a copy of the book Why Meadow Died…it can be found on Amazon. Fools like Geran Tarr are what’s wrong with the school system now.

  7. I am still surprised the unenrollment isn’t higher because of this year. Soon enough public school will be called where all the poorer children go. The others have parents who will be either paying for a private school or teaching themselves how to homeschool.

  8. Want to keep kids dumb and functionally illiterate? Add restorative justice to the equation.

    What it means in simple English is it will become even more impossible to put disruptive kids out of school.

    A further breakdown of discipline, a further increase in the time teachers don’t teach, more classroom disruptions, more intimidation between students, all of it.

    And your taxes go up because of the training, technology, ect the district will demand.

    Didn’t think your kids could get any dumber? Think again.

    If you really want to reverse the slide in Anchorage it starts with reclaiming the school board. Then the Assembly.

    • Here, Here!!
      We seem to have gone through most of 2020 without much public schooling.

      Does this fact turn on any lightbulbs?

  9. Want to keep kids dumb and functionally illiterate? Add restorative justice to the equation.

    What it means in simple English is it will become even more impossible to put disruptive kids out of school.

    A further breakdown of discipline, a further increase in the time teachers don’t teach, more classroom disruptions, more intimidation between students, all of it.

    And your taxes go up because of the training, technology, ect the district will demand.

    Didn’t think your kids could get any dumber? Think again.

    If you really want to reverse the slide in Anchorage it starts with reclaiming the school board. Then the Assembly.

  10. Restorative justice is not a new term or concept. It’s been around for well over a decade and a half. It been primarily used in the criminal justice world as a tool to keep criminals out of jail. It’s another Liberal concept in treating criminals with soft gloves. But has it reduced recitivism rates? No.

  11. I think it would be far better for everyone involved, and for the misbehaving student’s self-esteem, if they were just taken to a unicorn petting zoo for a few hours.

  12. Yes let’s keep changing how schools teach look at the great examples we currently have. We use to have top schools in the world now I wonder if we are even on the list. All this experimenting has really worked well everybody’s a winner.

  13. Five bucks says this lady has a kid that’s a numbskull and a suspension magnet.

    Why else would anyone insist that kids that are actually trying to learn should also be forced to commingle with truancy problems and dummies?

  14. Probably a no spank parent too. You can pick the non spanked kids out of a group by their behavior, as most do not listen to instructions . More liberal gobblygoo, please let’s get rid of these idiots and elect common sense candidates. Our schools are the most expensive joke in America.

  15. Well all their other left wing crackpot ideas have worked so well. We have allowed these idiots to destroy our schools for years, and the results speak for themselves.

    • Mark, at least you had the clarity of vision to admit we are the ones allowing this nonsense. We get what we vote for and turn-out is usually less than 30%. And, leftist vote in far greater numbers than conservatives.

  16. Yeah, it’s kind of like letting prison inmates run amok in our cities and sweeping their crimes under the rug! This is complete nonsense and a direct attack on the 1st Amendment and our Justice System. These people are nuts! How they get in office is baffling and I suspect Alaska is dealing with the same voter fraud the rest of the nation is dealing with. Alaska, time to wake up and engage this menace!

  17. Tarr appears to be leading the contest for Worst Elected Legislator in Alaska. This is pretty impressive given her competition of Andy Josephson, (Poison) Ivy Sponholtz, Tiffany Zulkosky, Zach Fields, the ever lovely Harriet Drummond, and new contestant Liz Snyder.

    The problem with most of these democrats is that there is hardly any opposition to them because there are very few Republicans in their districts any more. CHeers –

  18. Every leftist idea has degraded schools to the point of look at what we have. 3rd world education. All the changes have not reaped any benefits. Our schools are a joke.

  19. Someone remind me… what was the name of the boy who was released from Anchorage Pretrial a few months ago, on an ankle monitor, and murdered his mother and siblings?
    Yeah that’s what it looks like to be soft on people who misbehave.
    WHEN will the left learn from prior mistakes, and quit repeating them?

  20. There are instances of two kids fighting over an issue, maybe even only one punch thrown and not even landing, and both being expelled (not suspended) whereby the same fight many years ago would have been handled thru detention or something. Schools in AK instituted Zero tolerance years ago because of a distorted liberal view of total anti-violence, and as such some conflicts that could be handled understandingly were stopped, and replaced with overkill. This legislation is fine: remove the Zero tolerance rules for good. But it should get rid of the RJ nomenclature and just call it common sense school discipline.

    • “The right to swing your fist ends where the other man’s nose begins.”
      Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. Supreme Court Justice

      • The Honorable Holmes was not talking about 7th Graders. Zero tolerance is like mandatory sentencing. Individual rights require individual case by case responses.

  21. This is the policy that lead to Parkland high school mass shooting. Andrew Pollack father of Meadow Pollack has spoken out about how restorative justice policy leads to keeping violent offenders in the school with your children. They had this policy in Parkland and overlooked/ ignored all the indications leading up to this mass shooting killing 17 innocent lives. Pay attention Parents!!!

  22. I live in her district. She has run unopposed for at least the last two cycles. Sadly, this neighborhood is in a steady decline, many (if not most) of the residents are recipients of the government largesse. Most people with any means have moved out.

  23. Fortunately, the number of enrolled students is plummeting. That will limit the damage to the children, and free up teachers to become trainers, and / or attend training. A win win! Brilliant!

  24. I served on a board in a lower 48 Schoolboard that sought to keep kids in school instead of suspending or expelling them. The Board functioned like a Parole Board, having the support of the Superior Court, Juvenile Probation, Law Enforcement, School Board and service organizations. It offered a host of alternatives to suspension or expulsion, and involved the parents, teachers, and mentors. Regardless of good intensions, the program got bogged after it became embroiled in a jurisdictional battle involving parents vs children issues, interagency power struggles, parental disinterest when the board attempted to usurp authority over parents. Eventually a local judge shut it down. Not a fan of the government in any form attempts to intervene and replace parent instead of giving them tool so they can raise their children. Part of the reason parents have the trouble enforcing standards today is the role that schools and the courts play in usurping the parents role and authority.

  25. Other students suffer because the indoctrinator is tied up with a single violent pupil.
    Then when finished (if ever) there must be no record of violence in the students file.

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