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Compulsory

Education and the Dispossession of Youth in a Prison School

2017
Author:

Sabina E. Vaught

Compulsory

A groundbreaking look at America’s public education system through the lens of prison schooling

An institutional ethnography of race and gender power in one juvenile prison school system, Compulsory has major implications for public education. Through an analysis of the experiences of prisoners, teachers, state officials, mothers, and more, it provides insight into the broad compulsory systems of schooling, asking readers to reconsider understandings of the role, purpose, and value of state schooling today.

Fiercely rendered, Compulsory is the book for our moment. This book requires readers to remap the circuits that bind schools to prisons and the state and centers how communities—including young men who are locked up and their loved ones—negotiate, and often shatteringly resist, these powerlines. Situating the ‘prison classroom’ within a carceral landscape punctuated by deeply racialized and heteropatriachal practices of removal and premature death, Sabina E. Vaught’s necessary and poetic writing moves activist scholarship into needed and new terrains and pushes readers to mourn, to analyze, and to build struggles for radical freedom that leave no one behind.

Erica R. Meiners, Northeastern Illinois University

“This is an American story, unsettled by contradictions, constituted by unresolvable loss and open-ended hope, produced through brutal exclusivities and persistent insurgencies. This is the story of Lincoln prison.” In her Introduction, Sabina E. Vaught passionately details why the subject of prisons and prison schooling is so important. An unprecedented institutional ethnography of race and gender power in one state’s juvenile prison school system, Compulsory will have major implications for public education everywhere.

Vaught argues that through its educational apparatus, the state disproportionately removes young Black men from their homes and subjects them to the abuses of captivity. She explores the various legal and ideological forces shaping juvenile prison and prison schooling, and examines how these forces are mechanized across multiple state apparatuses, not least school. Drawing richly on ethnographic data, she tells stories that map the repression of rightless, incarcerated youth, whose state captivity is the contemporary expression of age-old practices of child removal and counterinsurgency.

Through a theoretically rigorous analysis of the daily experiences of prisoners, teachers, state officials, mothers, and more, Compulsory provides vital insight into the broad compulsory systems of schooling—both Inside prison and in the world Outside—asking readers to reconsider conventional understandings of the role, purpose, and value of state schooling today.

Compulsory

Sabina E. Vaught is associate professor of education and director of the Educational Studies Program and the Program in Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies at Tufts University. She is author of Racism, Public Schooling, and the Entrenchment of White Supremacy.

Compulsory

Fiercely rendered, Compulsory is the book for our moment. This book requires readers to remap the circuits that bind schools to prisons and the state and centers how communities—including young men who are locked up and their loved ones—negotiate, and often shatteringly resist, these powerlines. Situating the ‘prison classroom’ within a carceral landscape punctuated by deeply racialized and heteropatriachal practices of removal and premature death, Sabina E. Vaught’s necessary and poetic writing moves activist scholarship into needed and new terrains and pushes readers to mourn, to analyze, and to build struggles for radical freedom that leave no one behind.

Erica R. Meiners, Northeastern Illinois University

Compulsory

Contents
Introduction: Take No Prisoners
Part I. Outside
1. with its institutions: The Education State
2. Keys: Lockup and Juvenile Prison
3. The Street: Arterials of the White State
4. Second Possession: Racial Property and Removal
5. Home: A Story in Three Parts
Part II. Inside
6. Compulsory Schooling: Inside the Education State
7. The Architecture of Discipline: Personal Safety and Prison Security
8. Guilty by Association: Kinship and Treatment
Conclusion: Futilities
Acknowledgments
Notes
Index