LOCKDOWN HIGH

WHEN THE SCHOOLHOUSE BECOMES A JAILHOUSE

An investigative reporter looks at American public schools and finds that excessively harsh discipline policies are criminalizing student behavior and establishing a school-to-prison pipeline that unfairly targets minorities.

Bay Citizen online editor Fuentes writes that the zero-tolerance policy had its origins in the White House’s war on drugs in the 1980s and was given a boost in 1994 by the Gun Free Schools Act and in 2001 by the No Child Left Behind Act. The latter’s sanctions against schools that do not demonstrate achievement through standardized testing has led to charges that school authorities are suspending and expelling students who test poorly. The 1999 Columbine shootings heightened the public’s perception of the risks of violence inside schools, and many states and localities responded with high-tech security measures and surveillance systems. The author charges that technologies designed for military and prison uses, such as fingerprinting, have found their way into schools with little understanding of their need, effectiveness or impact on students. Fuentes also looks at the practice of student drug testing, the arguments of those in favor of testing as a deterrent and the questions being asked by those who question its value. She takes a dim view of those profiting from zero-tolerance policies: ex-cops who become school safety consultants, manufacturers of surveillance and drug-testing equipment and certain companies running alternative schools for students suspended from regular public schools for behavioral problems. There is a movement afoot, Fuentes writes in her final chapter, to oppose the trend toward heavy policing of schools, and she reports on the measures being taken in school districts in New Orleans, Denver, Los Angeles, Chicago and New York as they look for other ways of handling discipline and promoting positive behavior. Examples of zero-tolerance policies taken to absurd levels are attention-grabbing, but the real story, spelled out here with clarity and a touch of anger, is a disturbing one that should concern members of school boards, principals, teachers and parents. 

 

Pub Date: May 30, 2011

ISBN: 978-1-84467-681-1

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Verso

Review Posted Online: April 3, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2011

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THE ABOLITION OF MAN

The sub-title of this book is "Reflections on Education with Special Reference to the Teaching of English in the Upper Forms of Schools." But one finds in it little about education, and less about the teaching of English. Nor is this volume a defense of the Christian faith similar to other books from the pen of C. S. Lewis. The three lectures comprising the book are rather rambling talks about life and literature and philosophy. Those who have come to expect from Lewis penetrating satire and a subtle sense of humor, used to buttress a real Christian faith, will be disappointed.

Pub Date: April 8, 1947

ISBN: 1609421477

Page Count: -

Publisher: Macmillan

Review Posted Online: Oct. 17, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 1947

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Carefully researched and chilling, if somewhat overwritten.

COLUMBINE

Comprehensive, myth-busting examination of the Colorado high-school massacre.

“We remember Columbine as a pair of outcast Goths from the Trench Coat Mafia snapping and tearing through their high school hunting down jocks to settle a long-running feud. Almost none of that happened,” writes Cullen, a Denver-based journalist who has spent the past ten years investigating the 1999 attack. In fact, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold conceived of their act not as a targeted school shooting but as an elaborate three-part act of terrorism. First, propane bombs planted in the cafeteria would erupt during lunchtime, indiscriminately slaughtering hundreds of students. The killers, positioned outside the school’s main entrance, would then mow down fleeing survivors. Finally, after the media and rescue workers had arrived, timed bombs in the killers’ cars would explode, wiping out hundreds more. It was only when the bombs in the cafeteria failed to detonate that the killers entered the high school with sawed-off shotguns blazing. Drawing on a wealth of journals, videotapes, police reports and personal interviews, Cullen sketches multifaceted portraits of the killers and the surviving community. He portrays Harris as a calculating, egocentric psychopath, someone who labeled his journal “The Book of God” and harbored fantasies of exterminating the entire human race. In contrast, Klebold was a suicidal depressive, prone to fits of rage and extreme self-loathing. Together they forged a combustible and unequal alliance, with Harris channeling Klebold’s frustration and anger into his sadistic plans. The unnerving narrative is too often undermined by the author’s distracting tendency to weave the killers’ expressions into his sentences—for example, “The boys were shooting off their pipe bombs by then, and, man, were those things badass.” Cullen is better at depicting the attack’s aftermath. Poignant sections devoted to the survivors probe the myriad ways that individuals cope with grief and struggle to interpret and make sense of tragedy.

Carefully researched and chilling, if somewhat overwritten.

Pub Date: April 6, 2009

ISBN: 978-0-446-54693-5

Page Count: 406

Publisher: Twelve

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2009

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