Punished for Dreaming: How School Reform Harms Black Children and How We Heal
In the tradition of Michelle Alexander, an unflinching reckoning with the impact of 40 years of racist public school policy on generations of Black lives
In Punished for Dreaming Dr. Bettina Love argues forcefully that Reagan’s presidency ushered in a War on Black Children, pathologizing and penalizing them in concert with the War on Drugs. New policies punished schools with policing, closure, and loss of funding in the name of reform, as white savior, egalitarian efforts increasingly allowed private interests to infiltrate the system. These changes implicated children of color, and Black children in particular, as low performing, making it all too easy to turn a blind eye to their disproportionate conviction and incarceration. Today, there is little national conversation about a structural overhaul of American schools; cosmetic changes, rooted in anti-Blackness, are now passed off as justice.
It is time to put a price tag on the miseducation of Black children. In this prequel to The New Jim Crow, Dr. Love serves up a blistering account of four decades of educational reform through the lens of the people who lived it. Punished for Dreaming lays bare the devastating effect on 25 Black Americans caught in the intersection of economic gain and racist ideology. Then with input from leading U.S. economists, Dr. Love offers a road map for repair, arguing for reparations with transformation for all children at its core.
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Bettina L. Love
September 12, 2023