The Reinvention of Vouchers for a Color-Blind Era: A Racial Orders Account

Ursula Hackett, Desmond King

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

142 Downloads (Pure)


Historically vouchers, which provide a sum of money to parents for private education, were tools of racist oppression; but in recent decades some advocates claim them as ‘the civil rights issue of our time.’ This paper brings an analytic-historical perspective rooted in racial orders to understand how education vouchers have been reincarnated and reinvented since the Jim Crow era. Combining original primary research with statistical analysis we identify multiple concurrent and consecutive transformations in voucher politics in three arenas of racial policy alliance contestation: expansion of color-blind policy designs, growing legal and political support from a conservative alliance, and a smorgasbord of voucher rationales rooted in color-blind framing. This approach demonstrates that education vouchers have never been racially neutral but served key roles in respect to prevailing racial hierarchies and contests.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)234-257
Number of pages24
JournalStudies in American Political Development
Issue number2
Early online date24 May 2019
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2019

Cite this