Expelling Hope

The Assault on Youth and the Militarization of Schooling

By Christopher G. Robbins

Subjects: Education Policy And Leadership, Ethnicity, Criminology, Sociology, Cultural Studies
Series: SUNY series, INTERRUPTIONS: Border Testimony(ies) and Critical Discourse/s
Paperback : 9780791475065, 228 pages, July 2009
Hardcover : 9780791475058, 228 pages, July 2008

Alternative formats available from:

Table of contents


Introduction: Zero Tolerance and the Attack on Youth, Public Schooling, and Democracy

1. The Problem of Zero Tolerance and the Problem for Democracy: A Critical Analysis

2. Suspending Citizenship: The Social Contract, the Hidden Curriculum, and the Not-So-Hidden Curriculum of Zero Tolerance

3. Occupying Education: Zero Tolerance and the Militarization of Schooling

4. Zero Tolerance in the Color-Blind Era, or How the Consumer Society Disposes of its Waste

5. Against Zero Tolerance: The Struggle for the Democratic Legacy of Public Schooling and the Promise of Democracy

Appendix: Studies About or Related to Zero Tolerance


Demonstrates the many devastating and interrelated threats that punitive policies like “zero tolerance” pose to youth, schooling, and democracy.


Winer of the 2008 Critics' Choice Award presented by the American Educational Studies Association

Expelling Hope raises critical questions about the effects of punitive policies, particularly "zero tolerance," and repressive social relationships on youth (of color) and public schooling. It argues convincingly that zero tolerance is a catchword, or linchpin, for an array of discourses and social practices that support the criminalization of youth, the militarization of public schooling and culture, and the marketization of public life. Politically impassioned and intellectually rigorous, the book provides the framework for an alternative vision of youth and schooling, one rooted in hope that calls for youth to be treated as agents of a democratic future.

Christopher G. Robbins is Assistant Professor of Social Foundations at Eastern Michigan University and the editor of The Giroux Reader.


"…a strong addition to the critical discussion about public education and what it would truly mean to leave no child behind." — CHOICE

"When 'zero tolerance' replaced 'teaching tolerance' as the dominant paradigm for children's lives and public education, society unleashed nothing less than a low-grade, persistent war on youth—and on our common future. Children in schools find themselves locked out and locked in, searched and surveilled, excluded and banished, objects of a militarized social order. Christopher Robbins has written a brilliant and incisive account of the ravaging of hope through the criminalization of youth, punishing kids by depriving them of an education. A must read to see how we got here, who is served, and how to resist." — Bernardine Dohrn, coeditor of Zero Tolerance: Resisting the Drive for Punishment in Our Schools: A Handbook for Parents, Students, Educators, and Citizens

"The author makes important new links between the phenomenon of zero tolerance and the scholarship on militarism, neoliberalism, and democratic politics." — Kenneth J. Saltman, coeditor of Education as Enforcement: The Militarization and Corporatization of Schools