Reviews for Punished For Dreaming

by Bettina L. Love

Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

An uncompromising indictment of education reform. Educator Love, co-founder of the Abolitionist Teaching Network, expands on her previous book, We Want To Do More Than Survive, to offer 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.” Why, she asks, “instead of learning,” are Black students “punished with low expectations, physical violence, surveillance, standardized testing, and frequent suspensions?” The author condemns education reform under Nixon, Reagan, George H.W. Bush, and Clinton for enacting an agenda “that ushered in a new sort of Black bondage, a system in which Black Americans would be educationally neglected, economically starved, denied assistance, and incarcerated for selling drugs that the government itself allowed to be put out on the street.” Such policies, she asserts, are a form of white rage, “organized, well-funded, and cruel.” Policymakers with superficially progressive ideas—Bill and Melinda Gates, Mike Bloomberg, and Barack Obama, for example—nevertheless perpetrate harmful educational practices such as charter schools, virtual schools, and vouchers. “Many charter schools,” Love asserts, “are awash in corporate sponsors, philanthropic dollars, and the expectation that failure is an important part of the entrepreneurial process.” Love faults George W. Bush’s No Child Left Behind policy, which emphasized standardized testing and graded schools on test scores. “I worked at an F school in Florida,” she writes, a depressing experience for both teachers and students. Love calls for supporting abolitionists in their fight for “healing justice, environmental justice, disability justice, health justice, immigrant justice, reproductive justice, economic justice, body justice, gender justice, and LGBTQI justice.” She advocates, as well, for reparations that would go beyond economic restitution to include funding “well-resourced state-of-the-art schools with curricula that honor different cultures and traditions with love and admiration.” An impassioned plea for educational justice. Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.