School choice, widely touted as a system that would ensure underprivileged youth have an equal opportunity in education, has grown in popularity in the past fifteen years. The strategies and rhetoric of school choice, however, resemble those of segregationists who closed public schools and funded private institutions to block African American students from integrating with their white peers in the wake of the 1954 U.S. Supreme Court’s Brown v. Board of Education decision.
In Overturning Brown: The Segregationist Legacy of the Modern School Choice Movement
(NewSouth Books, 2020), Steve Suitts
examines the parallels between de facto segregationist practices and the modern school choice movement. He exposes the dangers lying behind the smoke and mirrors of the so-called civil rights policies of Betsy DeVos and the education privatization lobbies. Economic and educational disparities have expanded rather than contracted in the years following Brown, and post-Jim Crow discriminatory policies drive inequality and poverty today. Suitts deftly reveals the risk that America and its underprivileged youth face as school voucher programs funnel public funds into predominantly white and often wealthy private schools and charter schools
Stephen Pimpare is Senior Lecturer in the Politics & Society Program and Faculty Fellow at the Carsey School of Public Policy at the University of New Hampshire. He is the author of
The New Victorians (New Press, 2004),
A People's History of Poverty in America (New Press, 2008), winner of the Michael Harrington Award, and
Ghettos, Tramps and Welfare Queens: Down and Out on the Silver Screen (Oxford University Press, 2017).