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Along with others who teach or write in constitutional or educational law, I spent much time during the fiftieth anniversary of Brown v. Board of Education at conferences or panel discussions commemorating that decision. In each, the discussion of school choice—both charter schools and school vouchers—has figured prominently. Inevitably, one of the panelists—either a civil rights advocate or a left-identified academic—has said something to the effect of, “given that school choice began as a way for the South to avoid complying with Brown, I have the following concerns about today’s choice movement . . . .” As somebody who is committed to racial and economic justice, yet who sees potential in some school choice proposals, these references to choice’s retrograde historical past both troubled and intrigued me.
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