Since the shootings at Columbine High School a decade ago, hysteria has distorted the media's coverage of school violence. This climate of fear has created ripe conditions for the imposition of unprecedented restrictions on young people's rights, dignity and educational freedoms. In what many call the school-to-prison pipeline, the policing and practices of the juvenile justice system increasingly infiltrate the schoolhouse. The resultant Zero toleranceA" measures push the most vulnerable and academically needy students out of the classroom and into harm's way. Investigative reporter Annette Fuentes visits schools across America and finds metal detectors and drug tests for aspirin, police profiling of students with no records, arbitrary expulsions, teachers carrying guns, increased policing and all-seeing electronic surveillance. She also reveals the many industries and expertsA" who have vested interests in perpetuating the Lockdown High model. Her moving stories will astonish and anger readers, as she makes the case that the public schools of the twenty-first century reflect a society with an unhealthy fixation on crime, security and violence.
Annette Fuentes, managing editor of New America Media in San Francisco, is a member of the board of contributors to USA Today's opinion pages. She has written for the New York Times, Nation, Village Voice, Progressive, and In These Times. She lives in El Cerrito, California.