“Freedom Is the Answer”: The Strange Career of School Vouchers


ACLS Fellowship Program




This project examines the five-year long public school closures to prevent desegregation in Prince Edward County, Virginia, for new insight into the global phenomenon called “neoliberalism.” The Virginia story reveals how the push for privatization answered the biggest expansion of citizenship rights since Reconstruction, as the state legislature created the first private school vouchers in modern US history. This study follows the process that led a core group of Virginia conservatives from state-sponsored segregation to market-based strategies to insulate privilege from challenge, and to practical coalition-building with allies elsewhere, notably the newly launched northern-based conservative movement, proponents of Christian schools, the Republican Party, and leaders of kindred movements.