The Shortest School-to-Prison Pipeline

At one point in Promise Boys, written by Nick Brooks, a character describes attending his school as being just like going to jail. Unfortunately, I think there are a lot of students in our schools who feel similarly. Particularly our Black male students who seem to so frequently be targets of overzealous disciplinary actions. I think we need to ask ourselves, is this truly what we want our schools to be?

A big thank you to NetGalley and Macmillan Publishers for the advance reader copy of Promise Boys. This is the kind of thriller that goes beyond a “whodunit” and truly explores the socioeconomic and racial inequities in education. While the story revolves around three boys (Ramon, Trey, and J.B.) who have been accused of murdering the principal of their urban prep school, voices from a number of other characters contribute to making this story particularly impactful. Urban Promise Prep is a school that demands absolute perfection from its students, who are primarily boys of color. Any infraction can get them kicked out of school or humiliated in front of their peers. It is a school that seems to model itself after a prison– a breaker, not a maker, of men. However, that seems to be exactly what the community wants it to be.

With this novel, Nick Brooks shines a light on the way that implicit and explicit biases play a role in some of our most important institutions. This is a well-written, fast paced, and eye opening read.

Learning for Justice Social Justice Standards:

Justice 13: I can explain the short and long-term impact of biased words and behaviors and unjust practices, laws and institutions that limit the rights and freedoms of people based on their identity groups.

Action 17: I take responsibility for standing up to exclusion, prejudice and injustice.

Published by socialjusticeinchildrenslit

My name is Leah Cole and I was a teacher in Iowa for nine years. My passions for education, social justice, and children's literature led me to create this blog. Students are faced with issues of justice and fairness from the time they are very young. The Social Justice Standards developed by Teaching Tolerance help teachers to support the development of students who recognize and embrace their own identities while respecting and valuing those who are different. In this blog, I will attempt to identify and review books that support the social justice standards.

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