Our guest this week argues that, much like democracy itself, public education is an ideal that we’ve never quite lived up to. We discuss the constitutional right to education and how it’s ebbed and flowed over the years, following many of the same trends as support for and access to other democratic institutions.
The Trump administration infamously referred to public schools as “failing government schools,” illustrating how education has been caught up in the broader attack on the roots of American democracy. While the language is new, Derek W. Black argues the sentiment very much is not.
Black is a professor of law at the University of South Carolina and one of the nation’s foremost experts in education law and policy, focusing on school funding and equality for disadvantaged students He is the author of Schoolhouse Burning: Public Education and the Assault on American Democracy. The book traces the legal history of public education, and how the right to education was challenged during Reconstruction, the Civil Rights era, and other pivotal moments in American history.
After the interview, Candis and Chris discuss the ways that neoliberalism has impacted public education, the promise and peril of teacher’s unions, and how COVID-19 has further complicated our already complex relationship with public education.
This week’s featured show from The Democracy Group podcast network: How Do We Fix It?