Publication Date: July 15, 2016
This book examines how the use of the “at-risk” category and label creates problems for students and teachers. Drawing from research across various education sites, the author illustrates how educators recognize the label’s potential to redress issues of equity, but warns that it can also stigmatize the students so labeled. Brown explores how the labeling and subsequent practices by teachers and schools actually affect students, such as classifying many individuals as deficient. The text provides a historical overview, discusses the role of federal education policy and teaching, and includes tools to help readers acquire more complex, critical understandings of risk in educational practice. After the "At-Risk" Label not only challenges the education community to reorient itself to a more equitable discourse, it provides a framework for changing the structural conditions of schooling to better serve all students.
Keffrelyn D. Brown is an associate professor of cultural studies in education in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction at The University of Texas at Austin.
"In After the At-Risk Label, Keffrelyn Brown takes the common notion of 'at-risk' and turns it on its head. Instead of using risk as a trope for the 'undesirable' Brown insists that we interrogate the concept and begin to understand how we literally 'create' risk to justify categories of otherness and inferiority. It is imperative that people who deal with children and teens grapple with the centrality of her notions. This is a must read!"
—Gloria Ladson-Billings, Kellner Family Distinguished Chair in Urban Education, University of Wisconsin-Madison
“In this important and timely book, Keffrelyn Brown takes a fresh, scholarly, and critical look at the meaning and consequences of ‘at-risk’ discourses in policy and practice. She dissects the assumptions and contradictions that shape the many uses of the term and provides a much needed basis for radically rethinking whether risk can be part of a critical social justice project in education.”
—David Gillborn, professor of Critical Race Studies, University of Birmingham, UK and director, Centre for Research in Race and Education, University of Birmingham, UK
"This is a brilliantly written book — sure to become a germinal text in educational studies of risk. Brown compels educational researchers, theorists, policymakers, and practitioners to rethink what we believe we know empirically and epistemologically about risk. She challenges readers to interrogate and disrupt the ways in which our discursive interactions can dangerously shape our policymaking and practices through categorizing and labeling children as 'inadequate' and 'incapable' of school success. Empirically substantiated and theoretically grounded, this book represents an audaciously genuine call to know more about, to see more in, and do more for students who have somehow amassed the label 'at-risk!'"
—H. Richard Milner IV, Helen Faison Professor of Urban Education, University of Pittsburgh, Author, Rac(e)ing to Class: Confronting poverty and race in schools and classrooms (Harvard Education Press, 2015)
2017 AERA Division K Mid-Career Award