Dismantling the School-to-Prison Pipeline, Second Edition
Edited By Anthony J. Nocella II, Priya Parmar and David Stovall
Chapter Ten: The New Eugenics: Challenging Urban Education and Special Education and the Promise of Hip Hop Pedagogy
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I’m an artist from the start, Hip hop got in my heart, Graffiti on the wall, coulda ended in [laughs] Juvenile Delinquent
—NAS, FROM “BRIDGING THE GAP”
School is often seen as synonymous with education. This is a fallacy. Education is the attainment of knowledge. School, unlike education, is an institutional stronghold of oppression, repression, domination, and authoritarianism, and it has been since its inception as a social institution. Schools, as institutions, are by definition based on structures and systems that promote normalcy and control. The U.S. school system arose in the seventeenth century, governed and established by Christian religious orders to serve the wealthy. The system began in Boston and developed throughout the first thirteen colonies. About a hundred years later, finishing schools were developed for elite white women to train as wives, mothers, and domestic workers. As Packard (1866) clearly stated in the The Daily Public School in the United States, the school system should be “fitting our boys and girls to be useful, intelligent (not learned), practical, well, patriotic godly men and ← 165 | 166 → women” (n.p., emphasis added). Of course, Packard was referring to white “boys and girls,” and his commentary demonstrates that schools were established to maintain order in and loyalty to the burgeoning United States and its Christian foundation. Schooling was meant to turn children into upstanding citizens, not to educate them (i.e., Packard’s comment that students “not [be] learned”). Fast-forward almost 150 years, and the...