Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Guest Post: The Real Cost of Prison Comix, edited by Lois Ahrens with Comix by Kevin Pyle, Sabrina Jones and Susan Willmarth

Those who work at Passages Academy have shown themselves to be at the intersection between education and incarceration. In Teach Like A Champion, Doug Lemov suggests that the best way to teach students is to get to know them as individuals. One way to achieve this at Passages is to truly understand our students’ circumstances as court-involved learners.

The Real Cost of Prison Comix provides detailed information about the prison industrial complex, navigating this complex and how it relates to both teachers and students at our Passages school sites. The Real Cost of Prison Comix’ anecdotal and statistical information presented in graphic novel form also proved useful in the classroom as it engaged both emerging readers and those with deeper levels of comprehension. The book’s illustrations simplified sophisticated concepts, and thus made them more accessible.

Exploring the malevolence of the “school to prison pipeline” and its effects on families’ and communities’ health and fiscal well being, the book is one of the more transformational texts used in Passages Academy classrooms. The students are inspired to see their reality validated in print as they begin to consider how they can make changes to their lives and communities.

The Real Cost of Prison Comix is a rare piece of literature that can simultaneously both inform our craft and excite our students. - L.A. Gabay

Ahrens, Lois, Ed. The Real Cost of Prison Comix. Oakland, Ca: PM Press, 2008.

L.A. Gabay is a doctoral candidate in the Urban Education Program at the CUNY Graduate Center in New York. His published works can be found in “Teaching City Kids: Understanding and Appreciating Them” (2006), “The Praeger Handbook of Education and Psychology” (2007), “KICKS Magazine” (2009) and Sages’ “Cultural Studies ↔ Critical Methodologies” (2010).

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