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Garrett Albert Duncan

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Urban Pedagogies and the Celling of Adolescents of Color

In this essay, Garrett Albert Duncan describes how we must focus on the relationship between school, society, and the economy to appraise the role of public education in the burgeoning prison-industrial complex. He argues that the main purpose of urban public schools in the lives of students of color has been largely to prepare them to occupy and accept subordinate roles within the US economy and, by extension, society. This function of schools, with respect to black children and youth, was explicit during the early decades of the twentieth century as public education began taking shape for these students. Today, the implications of this function are obscured by a narrative that presents education as the “great equalizer” — that is, the key to material and social success. Further, this narrative excludes consideration of the possible educational and social implications of the recent shift in the United States to a service-oriented, high-tech economy. This shift has resulted in the elimination and deportation of more and more jobs, both abroad and, increasingly, into prisons, that traditionally absorbed black labor in the United States.

youth, schools — public schools; youth — minorities; people of color — United States; African Americans — education; prisons; United States — race relations

Citation: Social Justice Vol. 27, No. 3 (2000): 29-42