Cutting School

Privatization, Segregation, and the End of Public Education

A “powerful analysis of racism, segregation, poverty” (Diane Ravitch) and a timely indictment of the privatization—and profitability—of separate and unequal schools

“An astounding look at America’s segregated school system, weaving together historical dynamics of race, class, and growing inequality into one concise and commanding story. Cutting School puts our schools at the center of the fight for a new commons.”
—Naomi Klein, author of No Is Not Enough and This Changes Everything

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.

Hailed as “a bold and groundbreaking work” by Danny Glover, 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. Rooks breaks down the fraught landscape of “segrenomics,” transforming the “conversation about privatization and public education just as The New Jim Crow has done for the war on drugs and mass incarceration” (Khalil Gibran Muhammad, author of Condemnation of Blackness).

As our public education infrastructure crumbles, Rooks’s book manages to find hope in the inspired individuals and powerful movements fighting to save our urban schools. Cutting School is a cri de coeur for all of us to resist educational apartheid.

Praise

“An astounding look at America’s segregated school system, weaving together historical dynamics of race, class, and growing inequality into one concise and commanding story. Cutting School puts our schools at the center of the fight for a new commons.”
—Naomi Klein, author of No Is Not Enough and This Changes Everything
“Crisply written and meticulously researched, Cutting School is not only a compelling historical analysis but also a daring exposé of how the corporatization of public schools reproduces unequal, unjust educational opportunity. I cannot wait to share this book with my students and colleagues.”
—Prudence Carter, author of Closing the Opportunity Gap and dean of UC Berkeley’s Graduate School of Education
Cutting School is the book that I have been waiting for. Rooks introduces the term ‘segrenomics’ into our political lexicon and has provided the vibrant movement against corporate education reform a powerful tool imbued with political clarity, historical rigor and contemporary relevance. Read this book!”
—Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor, author of From #BlackLivesMatter to Black Liberation
“With this smart book and wise intervention Rooks will change the way you understand the challenges and possibilities ahead.”
—Bill Ayers, author of Demand the Impossible! and To Teach
“I threw the book across the room and paced the floor. This is an important work; hopefully it will make people mad enough to act.”
—Tayari Jones, author of An American Marriage
“A bold and groundbreaking work. . . . This timely book is essential reading not only for anyone who cares about the well-being of our children, but for all who care about the future of democracy and justice in America.”
—Danny Glover, actor and humanitarian
“A devastating and timely critique of the moral bankruptcy and racial double standards of the educational reform movement. Cutting School should transform the scholarly and activist conversation about privatization and public education just as Michelle Alexander’s The New Jim Crow has done for the war on drugs and mass incarceration.”
—Khalil Gibran Muhammad, author of The Condemnation of Blackness
“A work that brilliantly connects history to the present. . . . A must-read for anyone interested in saving public education.”
—Angel Harris, author of Kids Don’t Want to Fail
“Rooks shrewdly documents the nation’s centuries-long failure to ‘safely’ educate black and brown children, from John D. Rockefeller’s and the General Education Board’s twentieth-century efforts to the twenty-first-century correlates promoted by the Wendy Kopps and the Mark Zuckerbergs. Thomas Jefferson’s ‘wolf of slavery’ haunts its pages. Don’t miss it.”
—Bob Moses, founder of the Algebra Project