Race and School Vouchers: Legal, Historical, and Political Contexts Academic Article uri icon


  • © 2016, Copyright © Taylor & Francis Group, LLC. This article investigates legal and political issues as they relate to school vouchers serving students of color. Specifically, we draw on the empirical, historical, and legal research to examine whether school vouchers will create a more equitable system of education for poor students of color. First, we present a history of vouchers, including how they were used to support segregation. We then discuss how vouchers as a broad opportunity for educational equity for poor children (of color) might present particular challenges in light of, first, the race-neutral approach in contemporary case law and state statutes and, second, the relatively small percentage of U.S. children taking advantage of such programs. Finally, we present empirical results regarding African American families’ support and use of vouchers and a discussion of the racial politics of school vouchers. We argue that unless voucher programs and proponents address race directly, operate on a larger scale, and attend to the broader social justice issues facing urban communities, it will be difficult for such policies to support the greater good for African American children or society as a whole.

altmetric score

  • 39.5

author list (cited authors)

  • Gooden, M. A., Jabbar, H., & Torres, M. S.

citation count

  • 5

publication date

  • August 2016