A Better Chance for Brown: The Role of the Private Sector in Equal Educational Opportunity, 1963-1978 Open Access

Sterling, Erica (2015)

Permanent URL: https://etd.library.emory.edu/concern/etds/2801pg577?locale=en


This thesis uses a compensatory education program called A Better Chance (ABC) as a case study from 1963 to 1978 for understanding the private sector's role in the government's abdication of responsibility for the state of America's education system. Established through the joint efforts of Dartmouth College and twenty-three independent school headmasters, and initially funded by the Rockefeller Foundation, ABC recruited historically marginalized students (e.g. minorities and low-income whites) from the north and south to participate in a summer remedial education program, and then placed them in elite, predominantly white preparatory schools, and later, affluent public high schools. Ten years after Brown v. Board of Education, the founders of ABC, like many others, perceived the Supreme Court's decision as a failure in the public school system. Coupled with the civil rights movement and President Lyndon B. Johnson's sweeping attack on poverty, the nation was never more conscious of the federal government's duty to its citizens than it was in the 1960s. But the problem of deficient public schools was far greater than a series of experimental projects, ABC among them, could handle. Nevertheless, A Better Chance offered itself as a means for underserved children and their families to abandon the traditional public school system, a trend that continues today. This thesis argues that by historicizing modern day philanthropic endeavors and situating them within a legacy of privately funded initiatives established to correct societal inequalities, it becomes undeniably clear that the private sector has its limitations in addressing discrimination, limitations that can only be breeched by substantial policy shifts in the federal government and a fundamental rewiring of the psyche of American citizens. This thesis addresses intriguing silences in two bodies of literature - the role of philanthropy in black education and the desegregation of American education - and aims to expand upon the privatization of the public sphere.

Table of Contents

Introduction- My Brother's Keeper 1

Chapter I- Toward Equal Opportunity for All 10

Chapter II- Days of Disillusion 42

Chapter III- Benign Neglect 90

Conclusion- History Matters 122

Bibliography 129

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