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Article

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Abstract

"Do you want to apply to run the school inside Oak Hill?" "lbe question came from Vincent Schiraldi, the new head of V/ashington, D.C.'s juvenile justice agency, in November 2006. He wasn't making any promisesthere would be a formal Request for Proposals before any decisions were made-but he wanted to gauge our interest. Schiraldi was not a typical juvenile justice administrator. He was a former social worker who had spent the bulk of his career as a critic of the way our nation treats incarcerated youth. Schiraldi understood education's transformative potential, and one of his first priorities was to improve the school at Oak Hill, the city's facility for juveniles who had been adjudicated delinquent. Incarcerated teens suffer tremendous educational deficits: they disproportionately have attended failing schools, typically read and do math at the elementary school level, and often have dropped out or been kicked out of school before being arrested (Sedlak and McPherson 2010; Balfanz et al. 2003). In theory, commitment to a state facility offers them an opportunity to receive an education. In practice, however, most schools in correctional facilities are woefully inadequate (Dohrn 2002). In a typical facility, academic exp.ectations are low, the curriculum is not rigorous, special education services are wanting, and the teaching staff is underskilled and demoralized. What Franklin Zimring said almost thirty years ago is still largely the case: «the training school neither frains much nor schools effectively" (Zimring 1982, 72).

Date of Authorship for this Version

2011

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