Derek Black J.D., a law professor at the University of South Carolina, is among the nation’s foremost experts in education law and policy. He’s published extensively in prestigious journals and been cited by the Supreme Court of the United States. In his book, Schoolhouse Burning: Public Education and the Assault on American Democracy, Black explored the legal and historical basis for the right to public education.
According to Black, the inspiration for Schoolhouse Burning came from the teacher strikes in 2018. Seeing tens of thousands of teachers expressing their right to peacefully protest compelled him to “pay homage to all that [educators] are bringing to the American public.” It is with this spirit that he addressed the attendees at AACTE’s Opening Session at it 2022 Annual Meeting.
The guiding question behind Professor Black’s book is simple: are we moving closer to the original vision of public education, or further away from it? That is, his book chronicled the fight for public education. Using historical and legal precedents such as the Northwest Ordinances of 1785 and 1787, The Colored Peoples Convention in Charleston in 1865, and the Brown V. Board of Education decision, Black explained why the state must provide education as a democratic necessity, and how formerly enslaved African Americans were among the key figures in the fight for educational equality for all.