Books for White Folks Part 8: Education

Obviously, as someone so deeply involved in education, we knew that I would compose a list of books on education.  With education being the backbone of how a society creates its sense of cultural identity, explains its past, and facilitates youth into the present, education is many things in our society.  And there is easily a library’s worth of research out there about how schools from kindergarten to college reproduce inequality and produce different outcomes for different groups of people.  
Book cover to Cutting School by Noliwe Rooks

It makes sense that education is a fiercely contested space.  It is a collective space to which people place their most personal object (their child--since in the US, you are responsible and have legal rights over that child).  So that makes for a really interesting tension.  Throw into that mix, a long history of depriving marginalized folks from education (though making them pay for taxes to educate white folks), generations of redlining, denial to access many of the elite colleges, and various other systematic feature (mass incarceration--but we’ll get to that later), and you’ve got an education system that is hostile to marginal groups that it is a sign of resilience when they are able to make it through K-12, despite the systematic forces stacked against them.  

So, what’s my definitive recommendation for this section?  Without a doubt or hesitation, you all need to read: Cutting School: Privatization, Segregation, and the End of Public Education by Noliwe M Rooks.  Rooks breaks down the historical backdrop to “school choice” and how it relates to and continues to contribute to segregation, corruption, and massive draining of public resources for private industries that often claim they are here to fix schools (typically, urban or schools that cater to minority-majority populated schools) and have at best, a dubious track record of success.   It’s a powerful treatise on education that will open eyes about the depths of inequality permeating within and around our education system.  

The Recommendations
  • Other People's Children: Cultural Conflict in the Classroom by Lisa Delpit
  • For White Folks Who Teach in the Hood... and the Rest of Y'all Too: Reality Pedagogy and Urban Education by Christopher Emdin
  • Pedagogy of the Oppressed by Paulo Freire
  • Teaching to Transgress: Education as the Practice of Freedom by bell hooks
  • Fire in the Ashes: Twenty-Five Years Among the Poorest Children in America by Jonathan Kozol
  • Savage Inequalities: Children in America's Schools by Jonathan Kozol
  • The Shame of the Nation: The Restoration of Apartheid Schooling in America by Jonathan Kozol
  • Lower Ed: How For-Profit Colleges Deepen Inequality in America by Tressie McMillan Cottom
  • Pushout: The Criminalization of Black Girls in Schools by Monique Morris
  • Making Gumbo in the University by Rupert Nacoste
  • The Death and Life of the Great American School System: How Testing and Choice Are Undermining Education by Diane Ravitch
  • Pedigree: How Elite Students Get Elite Jobs by Lauren Rivera
  • Cutting School: Privatization, Segregation, and the End of Public Education by Noliwe M Rooks
  • Blackballed: The Black and White Politics of Race on America's Campuses by Lawrence Ross
  • Up from Slavery by Booker T. Washington
  • Ebony and Ivy: Race, Slavery, and the Troubled History of America's Universities by Craig Wilder
  • The Mis-Education of the Negro by Carter G. Woodson
You can find the full list of books in the genre of race, identity, and privilege on Goodreads.  For all posts in this series, check out:

  1. The Introduction
  2. The Ambassadors
  3. The Fiction
  4. The Classics
  5. The Memoirs and Personal Accounts
  6. The Comics
  7. The Histories
  8. Education
  9. Identities and American Culture
  10. The Systematic Critiques
  11. The Peripherals
  12. Since I Started...


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