Big House High

What drives U.S. public schools to partly resemble jails and prisons? Bay Area investigative reporter Annette Fuentes covers the forces and factors that affect millions of the nation’s youth in the direly needed Lockdown High: When the Schoolhouse Becomes a Jailhouse. She draws on case law, history, interviews, reports and studies to shed light on the security hype and reality in middle and high schools where students are fodder for companies in “education markets.” Politically connected firms flock to schools under “zero tolerance” policing policies that expel and suspend students—young black and Latino males, mainly—to profitable private schools, a pipeline to adult prisons. Likewise, drug testing in schools, a legacy of President Ronald Reagan’s “drug war,” penalizes students, thanks to local school boards tied to an education security industry fed with federal dollars. Fuentes’ last chapter surveys grassroots alternatives to punitive student policies. Roll, don’t stroll, to read her timely book.