CUTTING SCHOOL

CUTTING SCHOOL

Privatization, Segregation, and the End of Public Education

Book - 2017
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Baker & Taylor
Explores the racial and economic divides that would result as part of the push to dismantle public education in favor of vouchers, school choice, and free market competition.

Perseus Publishing

Public schools are among America’s greatest achievements in modern history, yet from the earliest days of tax-supported education—today a sector with an estimated budget of over half a billion dollars—there have been intractable tensions tied to race and poverty. Now, in an era characterized by levels of school segregation the country has not seen since the mid-twentieth century, cultural critic and American studies professor Noliwe Rooks provides a trenchant analysis of our separate and unequal schools and argues that profiting from our nation’s failure to provide a high-quality education to all children has become a very big business.

Cutting School deftly traces the financing of segregated education in America, from reconstruction through Brown v. Board of Education up to the current controversies around school choice, teacher quality, the school-to-prison pipeline, and more, to elucidate the course we are on today: the wholesale privatization of our schools. Rooks’s incisive critique breaks down the fraught landscape of “segrenomics,” showing how experimental solutions to the so-called achievement gaps—including charters, vouchers, and cyber schools—rely on, profit from, and ultimately exacerbate disturbingly high levels of racial and economic segregation under the guise of providing equal opportunity.

Rooks chronicles the making and unmaking of public education and the disastrous impact of funneling public dollars to private for-profit and nonprofit operations. As the infrastructure crumbles, a number of major U.S. cities are poised to permanently dismantle their public school systems—the very foundation of our multicultural democracy. Yet Rooks finds hope and promise in the inspired individuals and powerful movements fighting to save urban schools.

A comprehensive, compelling account of what’s truly at stake in the relentless push to deregulate and privatize, Cutting School is a cri de coeur for all of us to resist educational apartheid in America.


A timely indictment of the corporate takeover of education and the privatization—and profitability—of separate and unequal schools, published at a critical time in the dismantling of public education in America

  • Timely hot topic: With Trump’s appointment of Betsy DeVos, this topic will be front and center for media, parent, educators, and policymakers. Also, the book draws important connections for those seeking to understand the significance of the Black Lives Matter movement. The profits of education management operations are directly tied to poor communities of color that lack the resources to hire the lobbying power necessary to impact governmental change.
  • New angle: Rooks fills a void bringing a unique, race-based lens to bear on the questions of charter schools, choice, vouchers, and privatization.
  • Established media presence: Rooks is a contributor to popular publications such as the Chronicle of Higher Education, TIME magazine, CNN.com, and The Hill.
  • In-demand speaker: Rooks lectures frequently on topics of race, politics, and education at colleges, universities, and conferences around the country.
  • Credentials and marketing support: Rooks will capitalize on the strong relationships at the universities where she has taught (Princeton and Cornell), and also has the support of the Urban Justice Center, the Center for Media Justice, and Enterprise Community Partners—all of which have agreed to help promote the book.


  • Baker
    & Taylor

    A professor at Cornell explores the racial and economic divides that will result as part of Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos’ push to dismantle public education in favor of vouchers, school choice and free market competition.

    Publisher: Perseus Distribution Services 2017
    ISBN: 9781620972489
    1620972484

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