Reading 3 – The New Plantation: Lessons from Rikers Island

High School students in the Sprungs on Rikers Island

“The New Plantation takes us into the chaos of Rikers Island, giving us the vivid voices of young men–kids, really–caught in the unrelenting grip of institutional racism. I found it riveting.” –Monica Wood, author of When We Were the KennedysErnie’s Ark, and One-in-a-Million Boy

“It’s easy to forget people of whatever age who have been disappeared by incarceration. Jason Trask doesn’t let this happen. He isn’t just an observer passing along statistics but is with these kids, a fellow traveler on the tangled up-and-down-and-around road that is the predicament of American life.” –Carolyn Chute, author of The Beans of Egypt, Maine, Letourneau’s Used Auto Parts, and The Recipe for Revolution.

You can order it here (free postage):

Or on Amazon or order it from an independent bookstore.

From the back cover:

The New Plantation: Lessons from Rikers Island chronicles Trask’s quest to cross the cultural divide between his students and him. While he is a white guy from rural Maine—among the whitest states in the nation—nearly all of the young men in his classroom are African Americans or Hispanics from New York City.

We see him break a number of rules, not only those established by the Departments of Correction and Education, but also many of the rules of tradition and, in some cases, common sense. We see him fall on his face time after time, but in the end, though his educational methods seldom meet the standards of orthodoxy, he connects with his students in a meaningful way, and in the process, helps many of them to pass the GED.


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