- Paperback: 304 pages
- Publisher: The New Press; First Trade Paper edition (January 16, 2018)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1620973421
- ISBN-13: 978-1620973424
- Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1 x 8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 12.5 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 95 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #18,540 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Pushout: The Criminalization of Black Girls in Schools Paperback – January 16, 2018
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Pushout is for everyone . . . whose decisions-big and small-shape how black girls learn and live.”
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Powerful and thought-provoking.”
A powerful indictment.”
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I was a classroom teacher in Title 1, high poverty schools before making the leap to university teaching. I had much experience with the situations that Monique Morris depicted in this book. And yes, in a perfect world, schools would be supportive of every outburst and disruption that students make in class, because those are symptoms of deeper problems, usually stemming from issues and conflicts at home. But school can't fix all the problems and issues that stem form dysfunctional family environments and culture. Society can't expect schools to absorb all the problems that either begin at home or should be addressed in the home.
I tried to be an empathetic, supportive teacher who accepted the students as they were, just as Monique Morris is calling for in this book. But those same students assumed I was 'weak' because I was patient with their problems and their disruptions in class. They exist in a culture that operates on the maxim 'survival of the fittest.' They believe they must be 'hard' to survive in this world. This sets them up for failure in traditional institutions like school. And not being able to keep their emotions in check is symptomatic of dysfunctional families. The classroom is not the place to work out that dysfunction. But human nature being what it is, students recreate the noise and chaos from home in the classroom because they are comfortable with chaos and noise, and probably to work out their issues with a stable or functional adult that is 'safe.' No teacher can teach or help students learn in a classroom where this occurs on a daily basis. These unruly students need counselors who are trained to work with trauma and its after-effects. This level of need requires an expertise that is far beyond what teachers should be expected to handle in a classroom.
So where does it end? Do we totally dismantle the concept of school because part of the population lives in a culture that holds no value for school or education? I also come from poverty, by the way. And I realized pretty early on that education was the key to my being able to get out of and away from poverty and the hopelessness and misery it maintains. Being able to keep my emotions in check and listen quietly in class was part and parcel to my success as a student, which led to opportunities to move ahead in the world. If I was able to get out of poverty through education, anyone can do it. I just don't believe that learning and education is seen or valued as important in poverty culture and that keeps it running at cross-purposes with education.
All the good ideas and platitudes in the world are worthless if they aren't based in reality and human nature. And no one is willing to state the obvious here: generational poverty embraces street culture and the guns and violence it engenders produce young people who aren't the least bit interested in learning or being successful in school. That's emblematic of a culture that rebels against the status quo by venerating gangsters and bad guys, instead of trying to use education as a tool and move forward in life. School is simply not desired or aspired to in street culture, which is predicated on survival of the fittest. That's the sad reality of schools, these days.
Perhaps the advancement of technology will retool the school environment to being an online practice done at home, rather than students attending brick and mortar buildings and classrooms. If students are given the ability to learn online, individually, with no interruptions or disruptions, the ones who really want to learn won't be held hostage in physical classrooms by disinterested students who are acting out to deflect attention from their inability to read or do the work the teacher is attempting to explain.
I have to conclude that coddling dysfunction and allowing unruly students to derail lessons is lunacy. Their presence creates the safety concerns and policing of schools that Morris criticizes in this book, due to the fighting and chaos they bring to school, along with the guns in their bookbags. We can't turn schools inside out in order to placate and coddle their dysfunction. At some point, just like in "The Emperor's New Clothes," we have to address the ignorance and stupidity of street culture that is embraced by poverty culture. And that's a hard truth to face in this knee-jerk, reactionary point in time.