Alternatives in Education: Critical Pedagogy for Disaffected Youth

By Greg S. Goodman | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 15
Why Some School Districts Won't Change

In order to do the job it has undertaken and to find contiuous public support for that, the criminal law organization must always keep alive a negative stereotype of the criminal. ( Bianchi, 1994, p. 336)

Although there are many compelling arguments for the promotion of alternative schools, many school superintendents and the school boards that they represent feel that marginalized youth need punishment, not rehabilitation or a rewarding educational experience. Gauging from the nation's current penchant for building prisons, it appears that this thinking is more mainstream than this author would like to concede. Yet another view of why we do not have greater choice or alternative schools when the need for different types of educational processes is so apparent is eloquently expressed by Henry Giroux ( 1996), who states:

Rather than embracing cultural democracy, mainstream educators have largely embraced the modernist distaste for difference and fiercely promoted cultural uniformity as an aim of schooling. Wedded to the modernist infatuation with reason, mainstream educators have had little to say about the affective investments that mobilize student identities or how the mobilization of desire and the body is implicated in the pedagogical regulations of schooling. (p. 14)

Widespread evidence supports the conclusion that our society believes that a strong punitive response is the necessary reaction to antisocial behaviors ( Braithwaite, 1989). Many educational leaders continue to advocate the swift removal of the miscreants and raising the bar of success through standards of excellence ( Catterall and Moody, 1996; Orfield, 1988). This system fails to create alternative pathways to socialization and rehabilitation ( Rotman, 1990). Without sufficient alternatives, how are we to reverse the growth of our prison populations and reduce the school's thirty-six percent attrition rate?

Gary Orfield ( 1988) has written extensively on the subject of the misapplication of standards of "excellence" in education. Because Blue Ribbon schools and Distinguished School awards are often the

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