Schools, Prisons, and Pipelines: Fixing the Toxic Relationship Between Public Education and Criminal Justice (June 2018)

This essay first appeared in the June 2018 issue of Choice (volume 55 | issue 10).


Since their emergence nearly two centuries ago, American public schools have worked according to a tacit social contract. Americans agreed to tax themselves for the education of other people’s children, as well as their own, in return for a set of broadly construed benefits: the advancement of the economy, political and social stability, and the reduction of crime. “With what fearful rapidity,” Horace Mann warned his readers in 1844, “a people that neglects the education of its children will descend in the scale of poverty, degradation, and crime.” (Mann, 1891, p. 444) The latter promise—that universal public schools could reduce crime, has been a p…

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About the author:

Benjamin Justice is Professor and Chair, Department of Educational Theory, Policy, and Administration at Rutgers University.