Prison-like Schools for the Sake of Achievement?

“All day long, an immense amount of time and energy is spent making sure young African-American students are taught to obey.” — Dr. Hadi-Tabassum, Education Week

We have heard of the school-to-prison pipeline.  In this commentary, however, Dr. Hadi-Tabassum describes how turnaround schools that are claiming to educate kids of color are skipping the pipeline altogether.  Dr. Hadi-Tabassum explores the existence of schools where “you see lines of African-American children crossing the school with their hands behind their backs or their fingers pressed against their lips to indicate silence, and their eyes always facing front.”  I, similarly, speak out against compliance-based methods in my piece, “No More No Excuses” and believe that we should not “force kids (that, yes, are already legitimately “behind”) to learn in rows and lines and for “extended days” without arts, play, fun, freedom, power, and choice (even if that is most effective in the short-term for raising test scores) because it is not humanizing; it is not developmentally appropriate; it is not just!” We should not do these things because we know the results: even if students achieve and their data shows that they are “equal” with their White, affluent counterparts, we know that they are not deemed equal in this society, AND THAT MATTERS.”

Read Dr. Hadi-Tabassum’s entire commentary in Education Week and demand that there is an end to prison-like schools for our youth of color that operate under the guise of social justice and academic achievement for all.

*For more information on preparing culturally responsive and critical educators/students for social justice, please visit:


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