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A Political Education: Black Politics and Education Reform in Chicago Since the 1960s

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In 2012, Chicago's school year began with the city's first teachers' strike in a quarter century and ended with the largest mass closure of public schools in U.S. history. On one side, a union leader and veteran black woman educator drew upon organizing strategies from black and Latinx communities to demand increased school resources. On the other side, the mayor, backed b In 2012, Chicago's school year began with the city's first teachers' strike in a quarter century and ended with the largest mass closure of public schools in U.S. history. On one side, a union leader and veteran black woman educator drew upon organizing strategies from black and Latinx communities to demand increased school resources. On the other side, the mayor, backed by the Obama administration, argued that only corporate-style education reform could set the struggling school system aright. The stark differences in positions resonated nationally, challenging the long-standing alliance between teachers' unions and the Democratic Party. Elizabeth Todd-Breland recovers the hidden history underlying this battle. She tells the story of black education reformers' community-based strategies to improve education beginning during the 1960s, as support for desegregation transformed into community control, experimental schooling models that pre-dated charter schools, and black teachers' challenges to a newly assertive teachers' union. This book reveals how these strategies collided with the burgeoning neoliberal educational apparatus during the late twentieth century, laying bare ruptures and enduring tensions between the politics of black achievement, urban inequality, and U.S. democracy.


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In 2012, Chicago's school year began with the city's first teachers' strike in a quarter century and ended with the largest mass closure of public schools in U.S. history. On one side, a union leader and veteran black woman educator drew upon organizing strategies from black and Latinx communities to demand increased school resources. On the other side, the mayor, backed b In 2012, Chicago's school year began with the city's first teachers' strike in a quarter century and ended with the largest mass closure of public schools in U.S. history. On one side, a union leader and veteran black woman educator drew upon organizing strategies from black and Latinx communities to demand increased school resources. On the other side, the mayor, backed by the Obama administration, argued that only corporate-style education reform could set the struggling school system aright. The stark differences in positions resonated nationally, challenging the long-standing alliance between teachers' unions and the Democratic Party. Elizabeth Todd-Breland recovers the hidden history underlying this battle. She tells the story of black education reformers' community-based strategies to improve education beginning during the 1960s, as support for desegregation transformed into community control, experimental schooling models that pre-dated charter schools, and black teachers' challenges to a newly assertive teachers' union. This book reveals how these strategies collided with the burgeoning neoliberal educational apparatus during the late twentieth century, laying bare ruptures and enduring tensions between the politics of black achievement, urban inequality, and U.S. democracy.

30 review for A Political Education: Black Politics and Education Reform in Chicago Since the 1960s

  1. 4 out of 5

    Lizzie Ramirez

    I wish I had more time to read this book. If I had the chance to read the book at a slower pace, I know I would have understood everything better. there is a LOT of information jammed into this book. I found it really hard to keep track of all the acronyms and organizations going on throughout the book. this book did make me very curious about politics of the city though. It was interesting, and I found myself googling different schools and people mentioned throughout the book. If I have a chanc I wish I had more time to read this book. If I had the chance to read the book at a slower pace, I know I would have understood everything better. there is a LOT of information jammed into this book. I found it really hard to keep track of all the acronyms and organizations going on throughout the book. this book did make me very curious about politics of the city though. It was interesting, and I found myself googling different schools and people mentioned throughout the book. If I have a chance to re-read it I know I will definitely read it on my own pace, not the pace of my course, and I would write down all of the acronyms, organizations, and people so I could reference/understand a bit better the second time around.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Merricat Blackwood

    A fascinating local history that analyzes big questions, particularly the tension in Black communities between getting what you're entitled to from the state and maintaining local and community control. The writing is not always as engaging as the story--it runs a bit dry and academic--but the research here is priceless. A fascinating local history that analyzes big questions, particularly the tension in Black communities between getting what you're entitled to from the state and maintaining local and community control. The writing is not always as engaging as the story--it runs a bit dry and academic--but the research here is priceless.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Aprils

  4. 4 out of 5

    Frank

  5. 4 out of 5

    Will

  6. 5 out of 5

    Dylan Shearer

  7. 4 out of 5

    Laura Cheatham

  8. 5 out of 5

    Marcus Board Jr.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Mo Nichols

  10. 4 out of 5

    Abby Langford

  11. 5 out of 5

    Alisha

  12. 4 out of 5

    Ana Maria

  13. 4 out of 5

    Will

  14. 4 out of 5

    Darshita Jain

  15. 4 out of 5

    Haden Kersting

  16. 5 out of 5

    Megan

  17. 4 out of 5

    Virginia Downing

  18. 5 out of 5

    Alex Koenig

  19. 5 out of 5

    Kristin

  20. 5 out of 5

    almonte

  21. 4 out of 5

    Camila Restrepo

  22. 4 out of 5

    Sophia

  23. 5 out of 5

    Rebeca

  24. 4 out of 5

    Andrea Coffey

  25. 4 out of 5

    Sarah Jaffe

  26. 4 out of 5

    Alex O'Neill

  27. 5 out of 5

    shaz rasul

  28. 5 out of 5

    Luke Carman

  29. 5 out of 5

    Jennie

  30. 4 out of 5

    Monica Isza

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