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The origins of America's separate and unequal schools

In the United States, inequality along the lines of race in education is such a persistent issue that it often fails to make headlines. COVID-19 brought it back to the front of the nation’s consciousness as evidence mounted that nonwhite students were experiencing roughly twice as much learning loss as their white counterparts. 

Yet, as our guest on this episode explains, if history is any guide, more attention to the issue doesn’t necessarily mean better outcomes for nonwhite and poor students. There’s a long history of well-financed, elite (largely white) institutions investing time and money to try and address inequality in American education with little to show for it. Even more unsettling, these efforts often make the problem worse. 

On this episode, Dan Richards talks with Noliwe Rooks, chair of Africana Studies at Brown University, and the author of an award-winning book, “Cutting School: Privatization, Segregation, and the End of Public Education.” They discuss the surprising history of some of America’s most influential school reform efforts, and the deeper historical patterns and racist structures that keep our education system broken for so many American children. 

Learn more about and purchase “Cutting School: Privatization, Segregation, and the End of Public Education.”

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About the Podcast

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Trending Globally: Politics and Policy
The Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs

About your host

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Dan Richards

Host and Senior Producer, Trending Globally