“Can we imagine Martin Luther King, Jr., A. Philip Randolph, Ella Baker, or Rosa Parks marching on Washington to secure the right for parents to compete in lotteries for spaces in free-market schools? Rather than these figures, the managers of such reforms in fact seem to be emulating another iconic cultural figure: Milton Friedman, the Nobel Prize-winning libertarian economist whose 1962 best-selling book was entitled “Free to Choose.”
Student achievement data in the U.S. show long-standing and persistent gaps in minority versus majority performance (Vasquez Heilig & Darling-Hammond, 2008). Public concern about pervasive inequalities in traditional public schools, combined with growing political, parental, and corporate support, has created the expectation that school choice is the solution for poor and minority youth (Vasquez Heilig, Williams, McNeil, & Lee, 2011). As a result, many reformers have framed school choice as a “civil rights” issue. Scott (2013a) argued that philanthropists, policy advocates, and leading pundits have followed Secretary Arne Duncan’s conjuring of Rosa Parks and the broader Civil Rights Movement as synonymous with market-based school choice.
It is notable that the school choice movement counts on prominent African American and Latina/o leaders to support vouchers, charters, parent trigger, and other forms of choice. For example, Mayor Castro and other prominent Latina/os in San Antonio, Texas have escalated their search to recruit…
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