The Privateers: How Billionaires Created a Culture War and Sold School Vouchers

The Privateers: How Billionaires Created a Culture War and Sold School Vouchers

by Josh Cowen
The Privateers: How Billionaires Created a Culture War and Sold School Vouchers

The Privateers: How Billionaires Created a Culture War and Sold School Vouchers

by Josh Cowen

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Overview

A deep-dive investigation of education privatization that reveals voucher programs as the faulty products of decades of work by wealthy patrons and influential conservatives
 
In The Privateers, Josh Cowen lays bare the surprising history of tax-funded school choice programs in the United States and warns of the dangers of education privatization. A former evaluator of state and local school voucher programs, Cowen demonstrates how, as such programs have expanded in the United States, so too has the evidence-informed case against them. 
 
This thought-provoking work traces the origins of voucher-based education reform to mid-twentieth-century fears over school desegregation. It shows how, in the intervening decades, a cabal of billionaire conservatives supporting a host of special political interests—including economic libertarianism, religious choice, and parental rights—have converged around the issue of education freedom in an ongoing culture war. Through deliberate policymaking, legislation, and litigation, Cowen reveals, an insular advocacy network has enacted a flawed system for education finance driven largely by dogma.
 
Far from realizing the purported goal of educational equity, privatization is failing students and exacerbating income inequality, Cowen finds. He cites multiple research studies that conclude that voucher programs return poorer academic outcomes, including lower test scores on state exams, especially among students who are at greater academic risk because of their race, their religion, their gender identity, or their family’s income. Continued advancement of these policies, Cowen argues, is an assault on public education as a defining American institution.
 

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781682539101
Publisher: Harvard Education Press
Publication date: 09/10/2024
Pages: 224
Sales rank: 163,321
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x (d)

About the Author

Josh Cowen is a professor of education policy at Michigan State University and an author on topics related to education politics, school choice, and culture wars in the United States. In addition to all of the major academic outlets in his research field, his popular writing has appeared in outlets such as the Dallas Morning NewsDetroit Free PressHechinger ReportHouston Chronicle, New RepublicPhiladelphia Inquirer, Slate, Time, The Tennessean, and Washington Spectator. He lives in mid-Michigan with his family.
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