Lockdown High: When the Schoolhouse Becomes a Jailhouse


A riveting report on the overblown fear of violence that turns American schools into prisons and students into suspects.

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Lockdown High: When the Schoolhouse Becomes a Jailhouse

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A riveting report on the overblown fear of violence that turns American schools into prisons and students into suspects.

Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

Chicago Sun-Times
“A sweeping new book ... describing how the schoolhouse has become a jailhouse and fear prevails.”
Rethinking Schools
“‘Zero tolerance’ policies were originally written for the war on drugs and later applied to schools. As Annette Fuentes explains, the resulting extraordinary rates of suspension and expulsion are linked nationally to increasing police presence, checkpoints, and surveillance inside schools.”
Book News
“Visiting schools across the country, investigative journalist Annette Fuentes ... sheds light on trends shaping the future of American education.”
Publishers Weekly
In this well-argued book, Fuentes, a journalist with a special interest in children's issues, sums up the "slippery slope" from the school to the jailhouse: "If yesterday's prank got a slap on the wrist, today those wrists could be slapped with handcuffs." Her book is packed with the anecdotally eye-catching and hard, persuasive data ("African-American students were 17 percent of the entire public school population, but account for 34 percent of all out-of-school suspensions and 30 percent of expulsions"). She reviews the legislative history (e.g., Safe and Gun Free School Act, 1994) that buttresses these developments and the "security industry" that profits from it, and she concludes with an assessment of "alternative paths to safe schools." The proper education of children, her book warns, is not promoted when "orseplay on the playground or a shove in the hallway is no longer just youthful shenanigans disorderly conduct and assault." Fuentes's detailed and daunting investigation of the "lockdown" philosophy and practices as "the criminal justice model" that shapes security and discipline in our schools is a wakeup call. (May)
From the Publisher
“[The] penetration of prison culture into daily life and particularly schools has been brilliantly traced by US writer Annette Fuentes in Lockdown High”—Bidisha, Guardian

“[A] well-argued book ... packed with the anecdotally eye-catching and hard, persuasive data. Fuentes’s detailed and daunting investigation ... is a wakeup call.”—Publishers Weekly

“Examples of zero-tolerance policies taken to absurd levels are attention-grabbing, but the real story, spelled out [in Lockdown High] with clarity and a touch of anger, is a disturbing one that should concern members of school boards, principals, teachers and parents.”—Kirkus Reviews

“[A] chilling report ... extremely well-written.”—Library Journal

Lockdown High is a wake up call for Americans who care about how schools treat children and young people ... This book is a must read for school boards, school administrators and parents.”—Rodney Skager

“Fuentes’ style is smart and accessible, her material both revelatory and relevant—it’s not only parents who will stay up late reading Lockdown High, but anyone interested in where we are headed.”—Nell Bernstein

Lockdown High is a widely accessible overview of the trends in school discipline, surveillance, and policing. As such, Fuentes brings research in the education world to a broad audience and thereby widens the awareness of and potential resistance to the lockdown model.”—Rachel Garver, Teachers College Record

Kirkus Reviews

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.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781844674077
  • Publisher: Verso Books
  • Publication date: 2/12/2013
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 224
  • Sales rank: 1,438,922
  • Product dimensions: 5.30 (w) x 8.20 (h) x 0.80 (d)

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Posted January 9, 2012

    Great book!

    Annette Fuentes combines common sense, solid reasoning, and empirical research to support her premises. Her writing style is scholarly yet easy to read and comprehend. The book is both entertaining and informative. Every school official, law enforcement officer, and parent should read Lockdown High and advocate for implementation of the common-sense policies Fuentes promotes. Lockdown High helps dispel much of the misinformation and hysteria in our culture regarding school violence.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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