Erica Sterling

Erica Sterling

2019-20 CAPS Study of the American Republic Fellow
headshot of Erica Sterling

Strange Bedfellows: Race, Rights, and the Privatization of Education Reform, 1954 to 1993

My dissertation recovers the roots of privatization in the African American struggle for civil rights. I unite histories of race, philanthropy, and education law and policy to revise a contentious narrative of school choice and market-oriented education policies attributed to radical conservatives in the U.S. south. Instead, I recast it as a story of equally controversial yet lesser known public-private partnerships that emerged from bastions of liberalism Washington, D.C., Boston, Massachusetts, and Berkeley, California in the wake of Brown v. Board of Education (1954). I investigate how lawmakers and philanthropists partnered with Black communities to develop experimental schools outside of traditional public education.