Tuesday, August 17, 2021 - 6:00 pm (click here to register via Crowdcast)
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Most Americans today see school choice as their inalienable right. In The Choice We Face, scholar Jon Hale reveals what most fail to see: school choice is grounded in a complex history of race, exclusion, and inequality. Through evaluating historic and contemporary education policies, Hale demonstrates how reframing the way we see school choice represents an opportunity to evolve from complicity to action.
The idea of school choice, which emerged in the 1950s during the civil rights movement, was disguised by American rhetoric as a symbol of freedom and individualism. Shaped by the ideas of conservative economist Milton Friedman, the school choice movement was a weapon used to oppose integration and maintain racist and classist inequalities. Still supported by Democrats and Republicans alike, this policy continues to shape American education in nuanced ways, Hale shows—from the expansion of for-profit charter schools and civil rights-based reform efforts to the appointment of Betsy DeVos.
Exposing the origins of a movement that continues to privilege middle- to upper-class whites while depleting the resources for students left behind, The Choice We Face is a bold, definitive new history that promises to challenge long-held assumptions on education and redefines our moment as an opportunity to save it—a choice we will not have for much longer.
Jon N. Hale is a professor of educational history at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and an advocate for quality public education. Hale’s research in education has been published in The Atlantic, CNN.com, Education Week, the American Scholar, and the African American Intellectual History Series. His books include The Freedom Schools and To Write in the Light of Freedom.
Derek W. Black is a professor at the University of South Carolina Law School where he teaches constitutional law, civil rights, and education law. His research is published in leading legal journals at Yale and Stanford and cited in federal courts. His most recent book is Schoolhouse Burning.