After serving as the senior advisor to the Texas commissioner of education, Dr. Gaye Lang was appointed to her current position as the director for restorative practices for the Texas Education Agency. Before that, she was the acting secretary regional representative and the deputy secretary regional representative for the US Department of Education, Region VI, where she managed the rollout of the No Child Left Behind Act for five southern states. Dr. Lang has also served as project manager for the Houston Independent School District Virtual School, where she developed courseware for middle school students (grades 6–8) in four subject areas—the first of its kind created by a public school.
Her career in education—a classroom teacher in elementary and middle schools, a secondary assistant principal and elementary principal, a regionalservice center field service specialist, and a university adjunct professor—has earned her the respect of her colleagues. She holds a BA in elementary education from Dillard University, an MA in teaching and administration from Pepperdine University, and a doctorate of education in Cultural Studies from the University of Houston. In addition, she has certifications in science and superintendency from Texas A & M University and has taken a graduate course on restorative justice at the University of Texas. She has served as adjunct professor for Texas Southern University and the University of Texas at Austin.
Dr. Lang has presented numerous workshops and trainings on restorative discipline practices across Texas. Her dynamic trainings equip thousands of educators to transform their schools and classrooms into restorative places of learning and community.
These presentations were a result of her leadership as the point person for the Restorative Discipline Program for the State of Texas. Dr. Lang is the author of several books on education, including Restorative Discipline Practices (2017), This Is How We Do It! The School Turnaround Challenge (2009), and Administering a Virtual School (2004). She has alsowritten numerous articles for collected volumes and journals.
"Using Restorative Practices to Climb the Leadership Mountain"
Dr. Lang reveals through the events of her life the whitewater rapids that highly qualified Black educators, especially women, must negotiate in the US educational apartheid—and this inequity in a post–Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka era.
Given her educational experiences with both racism and sexism, Lang advocates using Circles, a process associated with restorative justice and practices, to build relationships as well as to confront these two -isms. Lang relates an all-too-familiar story about doors not opening for her, even though she had obtained a doctorate and the requisite experience. She outlines how Circles could question this closed-door pattern, raise awareness of racial harm, and bring greater social justice to employment practices in education.
Finally, Lang names the elephant in the restorative justice community room. We may expect resistance to doing school differently, such as with restorative practices, but the restorative community has itself normalized racial behavior antithetical to RJ/RP values. Lang identifies what ails restorative practices: the Western world, in co-opting and institutionalizing Circles, has done so within the framework of white supremacy.