Monday, January 25th, 2021 by
Schools, like many of our most cherished institutions, face unprecedented challenges at the present time, with educators and schoolchildren among our most at risk of infection from the coronavirus, not to mention the related challenges posed by remote learning, which directly impacts the education kids receive. Now more than ever, our schools need us to advocate at the local, state, and federal levels, pushing for adequate funding and enlightened leadership. Unfortunately, COVID alone is not to blame for the entrenched problems our education system faces. Powerful figures working behind the scenes are doing all they can to divert much-needed public funds to private institutions, already primarily populated by white children from affluent families.

Rising in defense of public schooling is longtime public school advocate Steve Suitts, former executive director of The Southern Regional Council and founding director of the Alabama Civil Liberties Union. His new book Overturning Brown explains how the rhetoric surrounding the “school choice movement” precisely echoes that of Jim Crow segregationists. Cries for choice, free markets, and personal liberty are smokescreens that obscure racism, classism, and discriminatory practices. 

Suitts (and his work) is appearing on media platforms all over the country, inspiring passionate objectors to this form of separate but unequal schools. Of particular import is an article by education historian Diane Ravitch that appeared in the New York Review, highlighting Overturning Brown as a source of key information for those seeking to understand this vastly important issue. Ravitch was also the host of a discussion with Suitts on the Network for Public Education, a recording of which is featured here. Steve was likewise a guest on WAMC Radio for the Best of Our Knowledge show in New York. A Q&A can be found from the Americans United for Separation of Church and State, and Public Funds, Public Schools allowed Sybil Jordan Hampton—an inspiration for Suitts in her efforts to advance school equality—to interview the author.

For more information, see Overturning Browns page on our website!