System Failure: Policy and Practice in the School-to-Prison Pipeline  book cover
1st Edition

System Failure: Policy and Practice in the School-to-Prison Pipeline

Edited By

Patricia Burch

ISBN 9780367366179
Published March 31, 2022 by Routledge
176 Pages 3 B/W Illustrations

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Book Description

SYSTEM FAILURE provides a framework for understanding the ways in which education policy across organizational settings contributes to the school-to-prison pipeline, as documented in the literature and as observed by authors in empirical studies of justice-involved youth in regular public schools, juvenile court schools, probation settings, and alternative schools. Burch and contributors argue that education policy fails low-income justice-involved youth in three major ways: maintaining silence around issues of structural racism and civil rights, marginalizing youth voice and culture and language, focusing on schools or the criminal justice system, and overlooking intermediate settings including the role of for-profit and not-for-profit education companies. While the problem of the school to prison pipeline has been well documented, the book adds critical detail and description of a policy process that tolerates the school-to-prison pipeline and stalls efforts to abolish it.

The book is intended for educators, students, policymakers and practitioners interested in a comprehensive introduction to the policy issues as well as advocates doing serious work on the issues.

Table of Contents



List of Contributors

Chapter 1 System Failure: Policy in the Schoo-to-Prison Pipeline

Patricia Burch

Chapter 2 'Softening' School Resource Officers: The extension of police presence in schools in an era of Black Lives Matter, school shootings, and rising inequality

Erica O. Turner and Abigail J. Beneke

Chapter 3. The Culture of Power Online: Cultural Responsiveness and Relevance in Vendor-Developed Online Courses

Jennifer Darling-Aduana, Kathy Villalón, and Annalee Good

Chapter 4 Redirecting the teacher's gaze: Teacher education,

youth surveillance and the school-to-prison


John Raible and Jason G. Irizarry

Chapter 5 Understanding the School-to-Prison Pipeline for Black Probation Youth

Bo-Kyung Elizabeth Kim, Jessenia De Leon, Camille Quinn, Patricia Logan-Greene, and Paula S. Nurius


Chapter 6 Exploring the Relevance and use of Funds of Gang Knowledge Among System-Impacted Latino Boys and Young Men: The Case of an Urban Continuation School

Adrian H. Huerta and Cecilia Rios-Aguilar

Chapter 7 Rising Up and Breaking Down: Youth Resilience and Institutional Failures in the School to Prison Pipeline

Keybo Wyze Carillo and Patricia Burch

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Patricia Burch is Professor of Education at Rossier School of Education, University of Southern California.


SYSTEM FAILURE provides a go-to resource for those who seek to understand the problem of the school to prison pipeline, as well as for those of us who suffered, first-hand, the policies and everyday practices that maintain carceral conditions in our nation’s educational settings.  

Stefano Bloch, University of Arizona. 


Chapters in this timely and powerful collection deepen our understanding of how schooling processes continue to criminalize and render disposable already marginalized young people. Reminding us that good intentions are often deadly, authors explore the harmful consequences of reformist policies that purport to protect, but instead dismally fail youth, communities, and the radical potentialities of public education. A critical tool for educators and policymakers, SYSTEM FAILURE sparks necessary interventions. 

Erica R. Meiners, Author of For the Children: Protecting Innocence in a Carceral State 


Burch and colleagues’ critical analysis of the School to Prison Pipeline transcends traditional understanding of the roots of the problem in racialized school discipline policies. While previous scholarship has largely documented the extent of the problem, it has failed to examine policies that make legitimate ‘deficit thinking’ (e.g., youths need fixing) and the hidden curriculum (the tyranny of low expectations). SYSTEM FAILURE…. Is a much-needed examination of the broad nexus between implicit societal policies that disproportionately impact children of color and children with disabilities in schools and juvenile prisons. For those interested in challenging current practice and their destructive effects on children, families, and communities, SYSTEM FAILURE is required reading.

Peter Leone, Ph.D. Professor Emeritus, College of Education, University of Maryland, College Park