cover image Cutting School: Privatization, Segregation, and the End of Public Education

Cutting School: Privatization, Segregation, and the End of Public Education

Noliwe Rooks. New Press, $26.95 (253p) ISBN 978-1-62097-248-9

Illustrating the ways that segregation, poverty, and race intertwine to affect America’s education landscape, Rooks (White Money/Black Power) clearly and vigorously maps the systemic disadvantages imposed upon students of color and the poor. “The infrastructure, ideology, progress, and promises [of America’s schools] all fall more than a little short if the goal is equality,” Rooks argues. While the performance gap between students from poor schools and wealthy schools is widely reported, Rooks shows how reform efforts have “focused far less on the structure or system itself and more on the failures of those it is designed to educate.” By closely examining these federally supported and increasingly privatized initiatives over the past 30 years, Rooks finds both a growing racial divide in education and an increasingly lucrative sector of business. She introduces the term segrenomics, which she defines as “the business of profiting from high levels of racial and economic segregation.” Pointing to the financial success of organizations such as Teach for America (valued at $400 million dollars in 2016), Rooks questions who actually benefits from charter schools, voucher programs, and virtual schooling. She argues that reform must integrate those who are most often excluded from the process: teachers and members of disenfranchised communities themselves. Poignant and plainly stated, Rooks’s thorough narrative of socioeconomics urges greater criticism and thoughtfulness about education reform in the 21st century. Agency: Diana Finch Literary Agency. (Sept.)