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Law and Order and School Daily Life in an Educational Program for Juvenile Delinquents by Shira Birnbaum

Law and Order and School Daily Life in an Educational Program for Juvenile Delinquents


Law and Order and School Daily Life in an Educational Program for Juvenile Delinquents by Shira Birnbaum

'It was hard in the beginning; I didn't think I was going to like it' - Student. 'This ain't even a real school, man. This is for discipline' - Student. 'I want to go to college and become a paramedic' - Student. 'Know what you learn in this program? You learn to suck up' - student. 'The school district would not like what I'm doing here, but I think these kids need it' - History teacher. 'This is my real ministry' - Community liaison. These are only some of the voices in Law and Order and School, Shira Birnbaum's riveting study of an education and rehabilitation program for troubled teenagers in a Southern city. Locally acclaimed as one of the better programs of its kind in the region, Academy exemplifies a new kind of institution, providing transitional school services under contract with both educational and juvenile justice agencies. Birnbaum's narrative focuses on curriculum, teaching, behavior management, and the social organization and culture of the program, offering a close-up view of the everyday classroom interactions that frame student achievement and, ultimately, program outcomes. What do students learn? What do teachers teach? What educational and rehabilitative goals are embedded in official and unofficial policy? What processes inside and outside the building help or hinder the attainment of those goals? As educational and justice agencies look increasingly to private subcontractors to deliver an array of services and growing numbers of young people are channeled into non-traditional educational settings and correctional institutions, it is imperative that educators and the general public understand how these institutions work and what problems their students and staffs encounter. This on-the-ground examination of education within the juvenile justice system will open your eyes to how we educate some of our neediest children. Author note: Shira Birnbaum is an educational consultant working in New York and New Jersey.


Shira Birnbaum's brilliant new book, Law and Order and School, offers an insider's look at an educational institution for troubled teenagers. It is a work of careful and thoughtful scholarship, yet its ethnographic approach makes it read like a novel as the students and teachers come alive and you see inside the 'Academy
with them. While the book

's strength is its in-depth look at this institution, it provides a recognizably authentic picture of what is being faced throughout our nation, and how, in the best of our programs, with idealistic and mostly very competent teachers, we too often still fail our troubled youth. This should be required reading for anyone studying or working with the juvenile justice system and for all of us concerned with the problem. --Steven J. Klees, University of Maryland Law and Order and School is well written and informs readers about an institution that most of us know nothing about. It is extremely rich in detail and includes many scenes and conversations that bring the 'Academy'
to life. The stories of the students and teachers are presented respectfully. With the accelerating privatization of both the educational and penal systems, this book is especially important at this time.

--Doreen J. Mattingly, Associate Professor of Women's Studies and Geography, San Diego State University

Law and Order and School is a gripping and compelling story. In this ethnographic study of the 'Academy,
Birnbaum lets the story tell itself, without hand

-wringing or sermonizing, without stating the obvious, and without upstaging the material. This is in every respect a model of what good writing should be: carefully conceived, theoretically informed and rich in insight, yet unburdened by pretense or jargon. The result is both a beautifully rendered, and a heart-rending, story told in page-turning style. --Robert Lake, Center for Urban Policy Research, Rutgers University

About the Author

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Book Info

Publication date

22nd May 2001


Shira Birnbaum

More books by Shira Birnbaum
Author 'Like for Like'


Temple University Press,U.S.


208 pages


Teaching of students with emotional & behavioural difficulties
Organization & management of education



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