School choice. A portfolio of options. Charters. Vouchers. Virtual classrooms. This is the vocabulary of the 21st-century American education system—and having more of these private options is exactly what policymakers, like Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, would like to see. But where did the idea of “public charter schools” come from? And what kind of impact does siphoning money away from the public education system have on the students who remain in that system—or the ones who are taking virtual geometry classes in their kitchens? Noliwe Rooks tackles these questions in her new book, Cutting School: Privatization, Segregation, and the End of Public Education.
Go beyond the episode:
- Noliwe Rooks’s Cutting School: Privatization, Segregation, and the End of Public Education
- Read the “A Nation at Risk” report that set the stage for business-first educational reform
- Listen to This American Life’s two-part series, “The Problem We All Live With” on two schools that integrated in the 21st century—one by accident, and one on purpose
- Two 2017 studies about Washington, D.C., a city with nearly 43 percent of its students enrolled in public charter schools, found not only that public schools remains highly segregated, but that private school enrollment contributes to the problem
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Our theme music was composed by Nathan Prillaman.