Synopses & Reviews
One mom's passionate, personal defense of racially integrated public education
Few parenting decisions are as fraught or as personal as where to send your child to school. But what Courtney Martin realized as her eldest daughter prepared to head to kindergarten, was that their family's educational choice was also a political one. Courtney saw her peers, white urban women who touted "Resistance" bumper stickers and belabor the state of America's criminal justice system, shudder at the thought of sending their own children to the local "failing" public schools. The choice seemed to be largely divorced from the political realities around them, from the rapid gentrification of Oakland to teachers threatening to strike, parents were instead focused solely on securing the best opportunity for their children-and who could blame them?
Based on extensive research and her own experience as a public-school parent, Learning in Public is the culmination of Martin's exploration into the state of our broken education system. From raffle tickets fundraisers to the unavoidable and stark cultural difference in the drop off line alone, Courtney deftly unpacks the cultural baggage that informs each family's decision for their children, which at its core, is a deeply spiritual question that begs parents to ask and understand what they value and envision for their child's future.
“Journalist Martin (Do It Anyway) delivers a remarkably candid and perceptive account of her decision to enroll her daughter in a majority Black public school in Oakland, Calif….Readers will be inspired and enlightened.” Publishers Weekly (Starred Review)
"Correcting the harmful legacies of racism in America is generational work. Learning in Public invites us to walk the long road of this process in beloved community. Courtney refuses to settle for the comfort and false certainty of simple answers and static moralizing. Instead, she insists on the painful discomfort and joyful awakening of transformation that's possible when we live into the biggest questions we have through the most personal choices we make." Mia Birdsong, author of How We Show Up
"I'm so grateful to Courtney Martin for writing Learning In Public, for so many reasons. For one, I now have the book to hand to my White parent friends when they start talking about what school they're going to choose for their kids. Two, Courtney shows White people in particular how to walk the walk and talk the talk — and how neither process is easy, orderly, or what we expect — and hope — it will be. Three, she reminds us that being a "good parent" and a "good citizen" isn't about knowing all the answers, or being the smartest one in the room. It's about being willing to not know. To be curious, to listen, to try, to fail, and to accept that morality is messy. With Learning in Public, Courtney offers the kind of radically vulnerable intelligence that we can all use much more of." Kate Schatz, New York Times bestselling author of Rad American Women A-Z and Rad Women Worldwide
“A welcome contribution to an important conversation that should continue as we strive for sustained social change. An honest, searching, and progressive book that will spark debate.” Kirkus Reviews
About the Author
Courtney E. Martin is a writer living with her family in a co-housing community in Oakland. She has a popular Substack newsletter, called Examined Family, and speaks widely at conferences and colleges throughout the country. She is also the co-founder of the Solutions Journalism Network, FRESH Speakers Bureau, and the Bay Area chapter of Integrated Schools. Her happy place is asking people questions. Learning in Public is her fourth book.