Henry Giroux on the “School-to-Prison Pipeline”

  • submit to reddit

Education expert Henry Giroux tells Bill public schools are suffering from an overemphasis on academic testing as teachers are stripped of their powers, in schools with disciplinary systems that resemble prisons. “The discipline, particularly in these urban schools for the poor, it’s not controlled by the administration, they’re controlled by the police.” Giroux tells Bill. ”This is an expression of a racist logic that has now seeped directly into schools.”

  • submit to reddit

BillMoyers.com encourages conversation and debate around issues, events and ideas related to content on Moyers & Company and the BillMoyers.com website.

  • The editorial staff reserves the right to take down comments it deems inappropriate.
  • Profanity, personal attacks, hate speech, off-topic posts, advertisements and spam will not be tolerated.
  • Do not intentionally make false or misleading statements, impersonate someone else, break the law, or condone or encourage unlawful activity.

If your comments consistently or intentionally make this community a less civil and enjoyable place to be, you and your comments will be excluded from it.

We need your help with this. If you feel a post is not in line with the comment policy, please flag it so that we can take a look. Comments and questions about our policy are welcome. Please send an email to feedback@billmoyers.com

Find out more about BillMoyers.com's privacy policy and terms of service.

  • Anonymous

    Handcuffed 5 year olds? My heart aches…

  • Mary Johanna

    I do understand that a fair education only happens in certain zip codes and I also understand that it is increasingly hard for families to get into those schools. My heart aches when I see how callous we treat our children, from the lunch that the schools call food to the metal detector that gives them their daily dose of presumed guilt. How do we expect these young people to be productive members of our society. Often it is petty stuff that gets’ them in trouble, and we forget that teens are still kids that their minds are not mature like their bodies might be. If my child would be of school age now, I would home school.

  • vcamm
  • Penn

    Zombie Politics and Casino Capitalism: A great interview with Henry Giroux and spot on the issue….,referencing,… leaders mistaking and equating democracy with market driven capitalism! Simply GREAT!

  • Tom Youngjohn

    Several important points made.

  • adam

    If children can’t get off to a good start in life how can they have a good life?

  • George T. Karnezis

    I’m thankful, always, for Moyers and glad he had Giroux on; I especially liked Giroux’s point about the lack of public space to acquire and practice civic literacy, and his suggestion that high school’s develop debate teams. (Though one could argue that, given Giroux’s praise of debate, he didn’t get much debate from his host.)

    While Giroux’s position is often compelling, I often find his prose less than stellar, with its rather histrionic rhythms and tendency to create sentences with “triplet” expressions (you know: “we must address the social, cultural, and economic dimensions of. . .” He tends to do this all too often and the impact is deadening. This, combined with his tendency to use broad strokes in lambasting his opposition, makes even me, a sympathizer, impatient.

    When the subject of “intellectuals” arose, I suspected that some reference to George Scialabba’s work would have crept in. I do hope Moyers interviews him. I’ll bet, based on Scialabba’s superior writing, he’ll be refreshingly less breathless and declamatory

  • Party Bob

    This idea that school discipline target minorities is not borne out by data or facts. The facts show white kids are more than 3 times more likely to get suspended than Asian-Americans. The least suspended ethnic group in America is a minority group.

  • Caroline Miller

    I watched the progam with Henry Girous. Wanted to read his book and went to bookstore to order it. Turns out it is a textbook that costs $129. I have to ask why a textbook is so expensive? What is Mr. Giroux getting out of compulsory sales to his students and what does the price, if typical of other text books, say about the raping of the American scholar? A book, is a book, is a book.

  • Anonymous

    Relax. That is library quality hard cover price. The soft cover is $ 33, and both are normal for a university press. The soft cover is sold out right now on Amazon, but the publisher has it. Authors get less than $2 a book normally. Printing and distributing is expensive. I very much doubt that Giroux requires his students to read his book. Authors of textbooks do that, but this is not a textbook. Ironically, authors get much more for electronic versions of their books as the cost of printing and distribution is nil. University presses do not exist to make a profit. They are there to help circulate knowledge.

  • Anonymous

    It would seem that you have a lifetime of learning ahead of you concerning racism in the USA. Always present, it strikes at the heart of all communities of color in explicitly documented ways. Your posting illustrates the very point Giroux is making: casino capitalism scapegoats a series of vulnerable groups may they be of color, female, children, or whatever. As long as we participate in this scapegoating, we are hastening our own demise and the planet’s. And doing this is madness. We are descending into madness.

  • Caroline Miller

    Comforting words but different from my experience. The book sells for $129 at Barnes&Noble. Author’s get $2.00 a book? That depends. I get more than that and I’m a small press author. I liked Giroux and liked what he had to say. But if a book is a textbook, it’s probably likely the professor who wrote it will ask his students to read it. Maybe you have a better understanding of human nature than I do. But 2+2 usually adds up to 4 where I live. And let’s be honest, all presses exist to make a profit whatever their good intentions. Without profits, there would be no hope of circulating knowledge. Still nice to know Amazon has a cheapter copy. I’ll check that out. Thanks.

  • Anonymous

    I am an academic author. We can barely get one vacation on our royalties. University presses are not money making machines. They exist to provide a venue for scholarly work. They break even. If they do really well, they can expand their offerings. Since most are attached to public institutions, breaking even is the goal.

    A popular scholar like Giroux would do much better than the average author, but my mentor, a world famous scholar at least as famous as Giroux, has about 1200 copies of her most popular book in libraries around the world. Mine has about 600, which is excellent for me as one of her most important books is also at 600. Of course, general sales exceed that for her books by many orders of magnitude. But the hardcover price for “Zombie Politics,” the $ 129, is for library quality books that will be preserved for millennia (hopefully). Giroux’s most popular book “The Mouse that Roared” is at 1337 worldwide in the WorldCat. “Zombie Politics” is in about 136 libraries at this time. Facts are facts. And “Zombie Politics” is not a textbook. A textbook is normally a review of a common area of knowledge like Algebra or in the case of the humanities, a collection of essays on a theme for a course in, for example, existentialism. None of Giroux’s books seem to be textbooks although I am sure that many of them have been required reading in various classes all over the world. Assuming that he requires the purchase of his books in his classes is unwarranted. The world famous scholars I studied under never asked their students to do this. We studied other world famous scholars, like Giroux, almost exclusively. If one of my professors finished an important essay, we got free copies ahead of publication.

  • Caroline Miller

    Thank you for your reply. But, as you say, facts are facts. Thje book Zombie Politics is listed as a textbook. it is sold for $129 which is a burden to students. My point. While I can’t feel happy that scholars get so little for their hard labors, of which I am most appreciative, I don’t feel sutdents, who already pay so much for an education, should subsidze their professors. Pricing is out of the writer’s hands, as I am well aware, but it is difficult for me tho shed a tear for publishing houses.

  • Kathleen Bobango

    You chose data on Asian-Americans to make your point? Their culture and family structure often supports them as good students. Many kids in Asian gangs don’t go to school, and that affects your data, as well.
    There are lawsuits all over the country right now, many backed by NAACP because the truth is, Party Bob, that the percentage of African American students and Latino students suspended is so outrageous that schools in N. CA are scared to discipline certain students and the students and their parents know it, and take advantage of it. Teachers are forced to have students in their classrooms that have threatened them, bullied or beaten other students and interrupt learning from bell to bell. So, if you have reading comprehension, you will determine that I did not take a side here. Both situations are the REALITY, however, and your comment is just ignorance and irrelevant. African American students and Latino students break the rules more in most of the schools I’ve worked, like Oakland, CA, for example….all over this state…but that is not to say I haven’t seen other, non-minority students given a pass, for the same offensive behavior. If these kids, all kids, felt cared for and felt like the education system was serving their academic and social needs, we wouldn’t be discussing discipline, we could discuss what is important…keeping them all in school. I’d bet you haven’t been in a classroom for a long time…educate yourself and be part of the solution? Signed, Teacher Kathleen