cover image Punished for Dreaming: How School Reform Harms Black Children and How We Heal

Punished for Dreaming: How School Reform Harms Black Children and How We Heal

Bettina L. Love. St. Martin’s, $29 (384p) ISBN 978-1-250-28038-1

Love (We Want to Do More Than Survive), professor of education at Columbia University, presents an in-depth history of the U.S. education system that highlights the anti-Black nature of school reform since the 1980s. In the decade after the Supreme Court’s 1954 ruling against school segregation in Brown v. Board of Education, anti-Black institutional backlash devastated the country’s robust community of Black educators, according to Love, who notes that 38,000 Black teachers and 90% of Black principals were forced out of their jobs. The institutional pushback against desegregation solidified during the Reagan administration, which manufactured a crisis of faith in the education system, notoriously claiming that if a foreign power had created the U.S. education system, it would amount to an act of war. This kicked off the successive waves of “reform” that characterized the next 40 years of education policy: the growth of opt-out institutions like charter schools, virtual schools, and vouchers; the encroachment of police into schools; an increased focus on testing; and other reforms that established a punitive and depersonalized educational environment for Black children. Love concludes with a chapter arguing that Black Americans are owed $56 billion for the harm done by the past 40 years of school reform, a bold assertion that will no doubt make waves in education advocacy circles. Detailed and persuasive, this is a must-read for educators. (Sept.)