African American School Choice and the Current Race Politics of Charter Schooling: Lessons from History

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Through a discussion of the current race politics of charter schooling and a brief, empirical examination of a community-based charter school that I helped to found in California, the public school community control movement in New York City in the late 1960s, and the African American independent school movement and the Council of Independent Black Institutions in the 1970s, I argue that a full understanding of the race politics of charter schooling requires a look at the historical roots of African American school choice. I find that history helps us better understand the complex dynamics of race and school choice. We can understand that African American parent and educator commitment to desegregated schooling is complex and certainly not unwavering; that the distinction between public and private in public education is quite murky; and that the definition of community for purposes of building schools is complicated and that strange bedfellows in African American education are nothing new. I appeal to the history of African American school choice to complicate the current public and scholarly debate on race and charter schooling.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)31-42
Number of pages12
JournalRace and Social Problems
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 2015


  • African American schooling
  • Charter schools
  • Race and education
  • School choice

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anthropology
  • Sociology and Political Science


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