Punishment-Free Schools & Pitchforks

dog training
Hello, We are looking to develop a replicable program, training, philosophy, curriculum, materials, and strategy that can be used to convert districts to a;
Zero-punishment, zero consequences, zero disciplinary, zero applied-justice, zero judgment, zero retribution model of instruction.
To reiterate;
A Punishment-free, Consequence-free, Disciplinary-action-free, applied-Justice-free, Judgement-free, and Retribution-free educational model of instruction is sought in alignment with Sanctuary principles and goals.
Although zero-punishment is implicit within the current Sanctuary model of trauma-aware programs Andrus offers, it is believed that additional emphasis and education-specific instructions are needed and that this is not currently part of the curricula provided under Andrus’s Sanctuary rubric, programs, and materials. We seek to translate the S.A.F.E. program from its origination in the health-care field into a language and methodology more specifically adapted to the education arena. Participation in an independent board to certify other programs in a “zero-punishment” Sanctuary education methodology is also sought to be discussed. A strategy to give districts “cover” to push through this zero-punishment model still is to be discussed and is critical, as is the need to have the cooperation of teacher and parent organizations plus the support of local public leadership. If pitchforks don’t come out, one is not effectively delivering and implementing the change that is sought – dealing with the pitchforks is part of a necessary healing process that cannot be obtained in any other fashion.
The intent is not to be intentionally provocative, but neither is there to be any obfuscation of the important purpose and goals of the effort which is to change the public-education culture back to its roots and foundation under its founder’s principles, Howard Mann, in the early 1800’s. Look below for an image of a clipping purportedly by his own hand of his most famous statement in regard his educational philosophy in regard punishment-free education. This is to be a part of Broward’s innovative “museum” schools, to be further described at a later time in relation to our hoped-for future joint efforts.
We’ll begin with one elementary school and a feeder pre-k and kindergarten – three schools to start. The goal is to as quickly as possible have the program in all schools in the county, the State, and then nationwide as soon as physically possible. One in three children in Broward, and nationwide, are abused and neglected – at an absolute minimum. Under Federal ESSA law, districts and schools must provide specialized instruction for children requiring it to succeed in school. A child that has a high A.C.E. score and that has experienced abuse or neglect requires trauma-sensitive instruction. Simple examples of what this entails are the dictum to be sensitive to provide choices wherever possible as compared to presenting things in a yes/no manner and avoiding emotionally charged trigger situations and material presentations. It is critical that it be understood, additionally, that this is to be undertaken quite literally as if children’s very lives depended on it, which they do in actuality – this is not hyperbole, it is factual, sadly, for our districts and all others nationally.
The school district of Broward County, SDBC, has approximately 250 schools and 250,000 students and is the 6th largest in the nation, with there being about 50,000 districts nationwide. At one time, very recently, we had the dubious distinction of having the highest number of children removed from classrooms per-capita in the country, and in the more distant past our county had the highest per-capita number of lynchings in the nation and resulting in a heavy burden of historical trauma regionally. I provide these details to emphasize that Florida is about as far and “deep-south” as one can physically and psychologically get. We have a highly progressive superintendent, teachers union, and district staff, plus, importantly, equally progressive local city and county government, child care services, police and health provider organizations.
I inquired previously (with Mrs. Manley and Nina) as to the Sanctuary program for our district, along the lines of what you have provided to the Strawberry Mansion district in PA.
In order to get any program into any school district in the nation, regardless of whether progressive, conservative or regressive – it must be “sold” to them in the logical, emotional, cultural and economic senses, each – in other words, it must be “commoditized.”
This is what has happened to these programs historically, from PBIS to SEL, to Sanctuary – all three. It has happened largely unconsciously for both deep trauma-organized thinking related reasons founded in evolutionary psychology and for pragmatic reasons related to simple reward psychology – this has all happened without any hidden agenda, nor even an explicit agenda on the part of anyone. All do the best we can. We all seem to suffer this same ed-related cultural cognitive dissonance in varying degrees.
Having teachers, parents, politicians, and the populace at-large take up pitchforks to come after one as the result of a progressive educational philosophy, such as is that of “zero-punishment,” is not conducive to “selling” one’s program. In all such programs, going back a very long time, for this reason, the “meat” of allied progressive efforts to follow a Quaker-ish philosophy of non-violence in the education arena has heretofore been removed as a focus and emphasis so as to be implicit at best and not explicit in order to make the programs saleable to schools, parents, teachers, politicians, and the public. The program we propose will thus NOT be “commoditized” in this fashion, intentionally.
What is sought is to create a truly “trauma-aware,” “trauma-informed,” “golden rule,” “zero punishment” school where;
An error is an opportunity to learn and to teach, not punish, judge, discipline, inflict a consequence, apply justice or require retribution.
Importantly; the word “error” encompasses what is colloquially termed “bad” behavior.
This long first sentence is not to be taken lightly for it is crafted as one might a key with each word an etched sentence section needed to move various expectational rationalizing neutralizing aspects of one’s mind matched to it like the cylinders in a lock.
Some Ed History and Background: I say this, this many words because it seems an extreme level of specificity is required or one risks severe corruption of the intended message to be either ineffective or even quite counterproductive in an oppositional way. As evidence of this one need merely look at the successive organizations in this education sphere in successive decades beginning with the founding of PBIS. Incredibly, somehow “positive behavioral intervention and support,” aka; PBIS, was inexplicably instrumental in implementing “zero tolerance” policies across the U.S. and evolved to become completely commoditized to provide “consequence” punishment matrices as part of its monitoring and tracking services to provide districts with a useful tool marketed by PBIS for district self-monitoring using PBIS accountability metrics and statistics produced by comparison with other PBIS districts nationwide in all fifty states.
A Golden Rule School employs Zero Punishment.
In a Zero Punishment school, an Error is seen as an Opportunity to Learn and to Teach,
NOT an opportunity to Punish, Judge, Discipline, inflict a Consequence of any type, apply Justice or require Retribution.
A corollary of the zero-punishment philosophy is that;
To train and to use dogs, horses, or Children for War is Wrong and Immoral.

myth spanked is okkids lovefrederick douglasa child in need needs a teacher friend indeeddog trainingOLD quote

Onward to an ever brighter future, thanks to our children,
Michael Sirbola

3 thoughts on “Punishment-Free Schools & Pitchforks

  1. Re; A Punishment-free and Zero-Consequence Trauma-Sensitive Instruction Method is Mandated by Federal ESSA Law for 1 in 3 Students Nationwide – GOLDEN-RULE Schools are Called-For.


    If one can train a pet Golden Retriever with nothing but kind words and treats to satiate its hunger, then one surely can teach children with nothing but kind words seeking to satisfy their innate hunger to learn. Period.

    When an error, wrong, or “bad” thing is done; when an error is made, there is no need to “magnify” it and distract from it. This is not a productive lesson one wishes to teach; that the consequence of a bad action is anything other than the natural outcome of the bad action – which, is why it is defined as “bad” in the first place. When one raises ones hand or voice, one immediately distracts from the actual harm or “bad” that was done and the child’s attention is focused, as it should be, on the negative attention about to be delivered, not on the actual lesson that need’s to be learned which is that the bad thing done is ITSELF the lesson and any additional negative actions taken toward the child detracts powerfully from this critical lesson that clearly the child is lacking.

    What is sought is to create a truly SEL-based “trauma-aware,” “trauma-informed,” “golden rule,” “zero punishment” school that satisfies the special education requirements of the 1 in 3 Broward, FL students that has, or will, experience the trauma of abuse/neglect as indicated by both local and national statistics.

    Because it is not feasible to identify each child individually and to develop and provide 1 in 3 children with individualized trauma-sensitive instruction, and because of the behavioral transmission of neurotoxic stress, it is necessary that all students be provided with trauma-aware and trauma-responsive instruction.

    In order to secure contracts with school districts and schools, the core message of provider organizations such as PBIS and others that provide SEL and Trauma focused instructional support, both for-profit and non-profit, is commoditized to be more saleable and pallateable to education institutions and this commoditization results in palliative, shallow solutions in lieu of actually addressing the root cause. This is a systemic issue all suffer from.

    What is sought is a partner to develop a Golden-Rule Zero-Punishment Consequence-Free Safe-Sanctuary instructional method where;

    A “bad” action/judgement is seen as an error and the question asked isn’t “what” was the bad thing done by the child, but “why” was the bad thing, or error, done or made?

    An Error is an Opportunity to Learn and to Teach, not an opportunity to Punish, Judge, Discipline, inflict a Consequence, apply Justice or require Retribution.

    Importantly; the word “error” encompasses what is colloquially termed “bad” behavior.

    One in Three Children (and adults) abused and Neglected in Broward means that under Federal ESSA laws the district (to the huge benefit of all teachers) is obligated to (identify each one, and) apply trauma-informed instruction to these 1 in 3 students (period) under an ESE IEP.

    A good starting point for more information on trauma-aware and trauma-informed education is sanctuaryweb.com

    Given the unfeasibility of providing an IEP and special instruction for 1 in 3 Broward (and all FL) students; the only alternative is to deliver all instruction under a trauma-informed rubric to all students.

    Additionally; ESE children suffer abuse at approximately 10X the 1 in 3 statistic – this means a MAJORITY of the 1 in 3 can be presumed to be ESE, or, alternately, (and most likely) that the ESE population is not properly represented in the 1 in 3 statistics (provided by Lauren Book’s organization for Broward and in full agreement with other State and National statistics) and that the 1 in 3 is more like 2 in 3. One in one hundred would be cause for grave concern; 1 in 3 is simply surreal.

    An error is an Opportunity to Learn and Teach, N-O-T an Opportunity to Punish, Judge, Discipline, or to inflict Consequences OR Justice.
    Terminology matters; In regard children specifically – Restorative PRACTICES – N-O-T Restorative JUSTICE! – Drop “RESTORATIVE” Too! Try O’hoponopono – A circle of friends, family, teachers, others. Each speaks in turn, beginning with the person to the right of the child with the issue (who did a “bad” thing). The last to speak is thus the child with the issue. All that go beore speak to their personal degree of complicity in bringing about the problem seeing it as an opportunity to teach and to learn, both. This is congruent with Trauma-Aware Instruction whereas the styling of a court-like and restorative and judgemental purpose built into the DNA and very words used, “restorative” and “justice,” Sigh!

    Dan, Fyi Slack provides full searchability and historical organizational continuity and history.

    Dan, >1 in 3 students traumatized mandates they be provided specialized instruction under ESSA, yes?

    Trauma aware instruction is Non-Punishment based, yes? We agree that there are no vendors offering help or training in this, correct?

    Errors are opportunities and willingness to fail is the key to successful problem and project based instruction especially – is fundamental to regular instruction. – and to trauma sensitive instruction as well, agreed?

    Dan – This is forwarded to try to keep you up to speed as things progress. Im sad you feel you cannot engage. Is this because you dont wish to, or because you can’t? You signal yes to full understanding by words but not in demeanor nor actions and it is confusing. Which is it?

    Following are pastes from other convo’s we should be having, but aren’t, inexplicably.

    Rich, we covered a lot in a very brief time yesterday. The large systems perspective linking evolutionaty biology to mindsets optimized for abundant or scarce environments, 1 in 3 abused/neglected nationally, behavioral transmission of hemispheric dominance akin to sanitary hygiene mindshift breakthrough – this being equal or greater in importance long-term fyi. Close-in view; The one commonality and exact same thing that has caused.learning declines in 50,000 districts across the nation for decades is ALSO what has kept project and problem based learning from taking-off and be adopted in as naturally occurring a fashion as one might expect. This is because it is antithetical to the core foundation of teaching and education – learning because you have to or be punished – treating children as if they were lower animals incapable of complex emotion or thought and so it is more about TRAINING than Educating. The result is a brain that suffers future-forshortening – why there is so lottle interest on longevity as logic wpuld otherwise dictate. It hints at a metabolism storing unused potential -inefficiency – as one might fat against future extinction-level events. Note the crossover of project-based instruction and longevity as the neuro-social result of punishment based education vs Errors being Opportunities to Teach and Learn. Can we set up a phone meet? This is… Should be… Perhaps… Looked at as a potential mindquake to energize the Buck Institute writ-large, yes, perhaps? Thoughts?

    I was fortunate enough to have gotten to speak with Dr Aubry De Grey in person at some length just the other day on just these matters, including future-foreshortening and its causes and the effect on our perceptions towards life extension. Dr. De Grey mentioned the movie Cocoon as the one single lone example across all media where mankinds future is depicted in a fully favorable fashion, even if only briefly as a backstory. It is a CLEAR sign of pathology; There are essentially ZERO depictions in book, short story, poem, or even billboard of a fully bright and wondrous future for mankind. If the world truly is made of stories and not atoms – how sad for us then, yes? We can change this. We must.

    Dan – another meetup with Mr Runcie? Please? Consider letting Anna and Terry come too this time? They are fairly up to speed also, no one wants to go through the motions of providing trauma sensitive instruction that they know is mostly pablum and thus continue to do inadvertent harm as the consequence by employing punishment-based training and calling it education, falsely and incorrectly.
    Subject: Slack for Education Is Changing How Teachers Collaborate | Articles | Noodle


  2. Reblogged this on Zero Punishment Consequence Free Schools and commented:
    Google “behavioral transmission of toxic stress” look for a PDF link posting. https://youtu.be/5qB5eqx8wXg Zero-Punishment, Consequence-Free, Disciplinary-Free, Golden-Rule schools is where I’m going. We’re all headed the same general direction. Wanna come along?   I am looking to collaborate.  ALSO, if you would please – Spread the word #MeTooChild – Share with YOUR INNER CHILD – and your grown and mature-enough children also, importantly must also know of what #MeTooChild is all about – a nations shame and positive urge to action. Hope is here – Resilience as Neurogenesis – Toxic-Stress Neurodegeneration is overcome by Neurogenesis –  A mass-cultural shift in our mindset can cause MASS-NeuroGenesis, intellectual awareness of which enables to better-grasp that Culture is Biology just as Biology is Culture! Here are some suggested paths from neurodegeneration to neurogenesis,from a mindset of scarcity and competition driving self-interest to one of abundance and cooperation driving group-interest, a flip in cultural-consciousness that our species must make soon or be subject to what is known as the “tragedy of the commons” where a shared forage is over-used beyond need, as by the storing of fat calories against future famine, which then occurs and all die… Hope is Here in our getting from here to there, in the Primary form of but one change, to education, of all things,  first and foremost, far above all in importance to ending 1 in 3 abused as children in America and the need of #MeTooChild is this one single education-culture change: Zero-Punishment, Consequence-Free, Disciplinary-Free, Golden-Rule schools is where I’m going. We’re all headed the same general direction. Wanna come along?   PBI/PBL – Problem and project-based instruction implicitly challenge the isolationist and punitive core education-culture in the U.S. with a collaborative positive reward model where:   *** Errors are OPPORTUNITIES to Learn and Teach, NOT Punish, Judge, Discipline, apply a Consequence or require Restitution -***   – A raised hand, voice, or blatantly Orwellian passive-aggressive English-language-murdering “consequence” – each immediately distracts from the real harm already done by the “bad” or erroneous act done by the child. Focus on this, with the compassion and empathy that are all children’s due. Children love to learn as much as Golden Retriever’s love to chase balls – once you get this there can only be abject horror at our current situation in classrooms across the US at the surreal horrific sight of Golden Retrievers hiding from and avoiding balls, with balls being used to abuse, tease, torture, and disrespect the poor trapped, captive animals. Just kidding, we’d never allow that be done a Golden Retriever, ever! Golden Retrievers can breathe a sigh of relief they aren’ t children – makes one feel terrible for our poor kids!   That such a pathologically punitive and isolationist TRAINING system passes and is even called “education” when it is clearly nothing of the sort, is made possible because ours is also a culture in which 1 in 3 children and adults have high ACE scores, have been abused or emotionally neglected – and is a culture in which MOST persons STILL corporally punish their kids and advise them to stand up and fight back if bullied. Teaching instruction patterned on Finland #1 or Norway or Sweden won’t and cannot work here because it is MALADAPTIVE to the national culture. It won’t and can’t work here. The US incarcerates more of its citizens, including children, incredibly, than both China and Russia COMBINED – and have an admitted military expenditure that is equal to that of 70 countries… The Entire World and some experts claim it to be the tip of an iceburg perhaps 3X larger but hidden legally mostly and visibly to various degree’s’ we spend less per person on international humanitarian aid than any top indistrialized country and more dollars on our military that we publicly admit to alone equal to 70 countries of;  Russia, China, France, Britain, Australia, Canada… You get the idea. We have more guns per person than any other nation and also the highest number of murders and accidental deaths plus suicides and a declining  lifespan for kids born now versus prior in the U.S. even as we alone allow insurors other than public insurance to even be legal let alone the basis of health care as it is in the U.S. that pays the most to benefit the fewest in health and all spheres, leading in suicides and addictions and with a native population failing to procrate above replacement-level had avoided Japan’s economic fate by absorbing decent numbers of immigrants that do still have babies, especially if coming from so-called less developed nations…  Which all begs the question;  What on Earth have we done to ourselves here in the U.S.? Our children will not liive as long as us, this is a first-ever for any advancing modern capitalistic democracy. So… Now… Clearly…   We must change, all of us – change enough to see that Golden Retrievers running in fear from bouncy yellow tennis balls and kids not loving school is fundamentally WRONG and that the problem isn’t damaged children, its damaged adults damaging children to grow up and be damaged and ball-fearing too. Sigh.   Enough. It is time to put down the paddle and the silly bookshelf of books by Ph.D.’s explaining how all consequences are not negative – as if any child ever looked forward to opening a positive consequence on Christmas day! We, adults, are ill and it is us that needs a behavioral intervention, not our children. It is we adults that deployed PBIS in all 50 States even as Zero Tolerance became the norm along with consequence-matrices, rampant suspensions, and handcuffed-in-class arrests – PBIS was there to help make it all happen and still is.   Sometimes concepts like “cognitive dissonance” are hard to convey: here is my favorite instructive example, the words that the letters PBIS stand for say it all: Positive Behavioral Intervention and Support. Ha-ha! SEL and Trauma-informed Instructional (Sanctuary) methods focus on the necessity that the child must change to better deal with our pathologies from when 1 in 3 of us educators was abused as children.   SEL, PBIS, Resilience, Mindfulness, Trauma-awareness, all of these commoditize themselves to be saleable into our dysmorphic education system by completely avoiding the core issue that our ed-system is punitive-based. All of these efforts put the blame instead on our child victims themselves: it is they that must learn to self-monitor and suck-up our pathological mistreatment of them so as to better be able to deal with our own inexcusable behaviors. No more.   You that read this know better now. Help others to see the truth. Children are dying – this is no longer just about best education practices or national intellectual security and competitiveness. You are morally called-upon. All of us are – to redirect our efforts to ourselves – and to change. We can. We must. Think. Look. Act. For our children’s sake and for the future of all mankind. This is the fulcrum upon which we thrive or die. Think. Look. Act. Start this very second. For the lives of children in the US, and worldwide. Them. You. Just you. Now. Ok? Show quoted text    Google “behavioral transmission of toxic stress”

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