Cover

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Title Page, Copyright Page

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pp. i-vi

Contents

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pp. vii-viii

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Acknowledgments

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pp. ix-xiv

I am a proud product of a public school education, and my ability to engage and be inspired by my teachers was the direct result of the public tax funds that paid their salaries, built my classrooms, and bought the textbooks that opened up the world for me outside my small rural town. I am also the result of the taxpayer money that fed, sheltered, and clothed me through much of my childhood from programs like Aid to Families with Dependent Children, as well as the federal grants and loans that allowed me to...

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Introduction: Taxpayer Citizenship and the Right to Education

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pp. 1-14

In the 2016 U.S. presidential election, the question of whether the Republican candidate, Donald J. Trump, had paid U.S. income tax became regular fodder for the news media. Based on pages from his tax records in 1995 that were leaked to the New York Times, there was speculation late in the campaign that Trump had very likely not paid federal taxes for many years.1 Yet the unapologetic, winking response from the candidate was, as he said to reporters before and after the election, that “people don’t care” about...

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Chapter One. A Shabby Meanness: Origins of Unequal Taxation

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pp. 15-34

In the decades after the Civil War, black education was frequently deployed as a political tool by white elites to rally poor and working-class whites away from potential coalitions by implying that tax funding for education was really “white” funding for black schooling, and that it would only encourage black resistance and rebellion. In her famous analysis of Southern lynch law in 1892, Ida B. Wells traced the classic excuses offered by the Memphis Evening Scimitar newspaper to justify lynchings, beginning with the narrative...

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Chapter Two. Let Them Plow: Beyond the Black-White Paradigm

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pp. 35-48

One of the only cases to reach the U.S. Supreme Court on school desegregation in the early decades of the twentieth century was Gong Lum v. Rice in 1927.1 Martha Lum was nine years old when her father, Gong Lum, a well-to-do Chinese grocer, attempted to send her to the white school in Rosedale, Mississippi in 1924. She was refused admission by white authorities. The claim made by Lum’s attorneys in their lawsuit was that Martha Lum was wrongly listed by white school officials as a “colored” child and...

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Chapter Three. We Are Taxpaying Citizens: Separate and Color-Blind

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pp. 49-68

In Covington County, Mississippi, in 1925, separate schools for black and white children were a given. For the African American trustees of Hopewell, the black school district, the profound inequality between their schools and the white schools of the Calhoun consolidated district was a more constant source of frustration. What made it even more frustrating was that many of them owned property inside the territory included in the Calhoun white school district—property they were taxed on for the support of those white...

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Chapter Four. A Drain on Taxpayers: Graduate School Segregation and the Road to Brown

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pp. 69-84

R. I. Brigham, self-described as a “white educator,” argued in 1946 in an article in the Baltimore Afro-American that segregated schools were “a drain on taxpayers” and were “costly and wasteful” to Missouri.1 The straightforwardly economic argument that separate schools were ultimately a waste of taxpayer resources was deployed in various ways by the NAACP and many other advocates in the graduate school segregation cases as a conscious strategy to force the fiscal hand of segregationist states. For example, in 1936,...

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Chapter Five. The White Man’s Tax Dollar: Segregationists and Backlash

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pp. 85-108

As the Supreme Court was debating Brown v. Board of Education in early 1954, Harry A. Johnston wrote a letter from his home in Alabama to Justice Robert Jackson. Johnston wrote to lament the possible desegregation ruling anticipated from the court, saying he spoke on behalf of “the taxpaying citizens as individuals, as well as parents,” who, he said, did not want to have to accept blacks “on an equality basis.”1 Ultimately, one of the most common refrains in the grassroots debates around judicial desegregation...

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Chapter Six. Taxpayers and Taxeaters: Poverty and the Constitution

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pp. 109-131

As the schools in Prince Edward County were closing down and diverting the public school tax fund to private options rather than submit to desegregation orders, not far away a similar case was brewing in Newport News, Virginia. During that litigation, the Newport News school board’s attorney, Archibald Robertson, pointedly asked a city official how much of the public relief fund “goes to Negroes and how much to whites.” After pressing for the answer that “ninety percent” of the “aid to dependent children, general relief...

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Chapter Seven. The Rich Richer and the Poor Poorer: Intersectional Claims

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pp. 132-160

In 1971 the New York Times reported that Andrew J. Spano, a taxpayer in Westchester, was suing his local school district, Lakeland Central, as well as the State of New York, claiming that the use of local property taxes to fund education was unconstitutional.1 Spano brought the suit shortly after the California Supreme Court ruled in favor of a similar suit in Serrano v. Priest. Spano argued that his district, with its minimal tax base and modest homes, had a real estate value of only about a third of a wealthy...

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Conclusion: Education, Inequality, and the Hidden Power of Taxes

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pp. 161-176

In 1959, the United Nations adopted the Declaration of the Rights of the Child, which held that children were entitled to receive free and compulsory education to enable them “on the basis of equal opportunity” to develop their abilities and become “useful member[s] of society.”1 Over fifty years later, children enjoyed a constitutional right to education in Mexico, Canada, the United Kingdom, Ireland, India, Japan, Korea, Taiwan, Finland, Switzerland, Sweden, China, and Russia, among others, though, as...

Notes

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pp. 177-208

Bibliography

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pp. 209-230

Index

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pp. 231-236