Young people who have received special education services in the United States are vastly overrepresented in juvenile and adult criminal justice systems relative to their numbers in the general population. Although much existing research blames individual kids for getting arrested, school-level policies and practices affect a variety of student outcomes, including involvement with the justice system. These school-level policies and practices can—and should—be altered by teachers, administrators, and policy makers to reduce the number of young people getting arrested.
Disabling the School-to-Prison Pipeline uses administrative data from New York City public schools and interviews with young people who have received special education services in NYC public schools and been arrested to better understand how schools can help or harm students receiving special education services. Schools cannot fix all problems associated with the criminal justice system in the United States; however, we can certainly expect schools not to make existing problems worse. This book identifies school-level policies and practices that may lead to negative outcomes for students, such as getting arrested, and suggests alternatives.
Laura Vernikoff is assistant professor of special education at Touro College Graduate School of Education.
1 – Students Whom Schools Do Not Fit: The Brief History of Common Schooling in the United States
2 – The School-to-Prison Pipeline and Dis/ability Today
3 – Special Education and the School-to-Prison Pipeline in New York City: An Overview
4 – Young People Talk About and Around Special Educators and Peers with IEPs
5 – Moving From the General to the Particular and Back: Generalizability and Variability in the School-to-Prison Pipeline
6 – Diverting the School-to-Prison Pipeline
Drawing from publicly available data, her own meticulous research, and rich experiences as a teacher, Vernikoff renders the realities of the school-to-prison pipeline by centering student voices and creating a compelling narrative of the underbelly of school practices while offering a healthy critique of special education—making for a very powerful read.
This book is essential reading for all who seek to provide more enriching and equitable learning experiences and outcomes for youth with disabilities. Vernikoff has brought a critical awareness of the life of youth whose curricular and pedagogical perspectives are missing from understandings underlying structural inequities of the school to prison pipeline. In doing so, she provides opportunities for educators to reexamine their school policies and practices to provide more socially just approaches to interrupt the school to prison pipeline for students with disabilities, especially youth of color.