NOW A NEW YORK TIMES AND A USA TODAY BESTSELLER
“I am an eighties baby who grew to hate school. I never fully understood why. Until now. Until Bettina Love unapologetically and painstakingly chronicled the last forty years of education ‘reform’ in this landmark book. I hated school because it warred on me. I hated school because I loved to dream.”
—Ibram X. Kendi, New York Times bestselling author of How to be an Antiracist
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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“Detailed and persuasive, this is a must-read for educators.”
—Publishers Weekly, starred review
“Lays out the racial injustices rampant in the public education system, from the era of school segregation to the massive resistance to Brown v. Board to the current era of so-called school choice. … an important—though enraging and heartbreaking—read.”
"A stark critique of 40 years of education policies that were deliberately crafted ‘to punish Black people for believing in and fighting for their right to quality public education.’ … An impassioned plea for educational justice.”
“A landmark book.”
―Ibram X. Kendi, author of How to be an Antiracist
―Carol Anderson, bestselling author of White Rage
"Love is one of our fiercest advocates."
―Michael Eric Dyson, bestselling author
"An urgent call to action."
―Salamishah Tillet, winner of the Pulitzer Prize
"Blends brilliance, warmth, and a deep commitment to the pursuit of justice for all our nation’s children."
―Brittney Cooper, bestselling author of Eloquent Rage
"Accessible and deeply personal...Love's interviews with Black folks... add a tenderness and intimacy."
―Eve L. Ewing, author of Ghosts in the Schoolyard
"Love brilliantly exposes how the promise of education as a means to lift all boats and right historical wrongs is coopted by politics, strategies, euphemisms, and implicit biases that surveil and control children of color under the guise of teaching them. This is an urgent, often surprising, ultimately must-read book for anyone concerned with the pedagogy in and of our nation."
―Jonathan Metzl, author of Dying of Whiteness