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Designed to Fail book cover
In Designed to Fail, Roseann Liu provides an inside look at the Pennsylvania state legislature and campaigns for fair funding to show how those responsible for the distribution of school funding work to maintain the privileges of majority-white school districts. Liu analyzes how colorblind policies, political structures, and the maintenance of the status quo by people in power perpetuate wide and deepening racial disparities in education funding. Taking a lesson from community organizers fighting for a racially equitable school funding system, Liu’s work is a bold call to address structural racism at the root and organize from a place of abundant justice.

A provocative examination of how systemic racism in education funding is sustained.

"Designed to Fail is a profoundly original, remarkably rigorous, and desperately needed text. Through rich ethnographic inquiry, augmented by careful policy analysis, this book destroys the veneer of colorblindness. Beyond her brilliant analysis of our present crisis, Liu generously provides a clear and actionable strategy for transforming educational policy. This is a must-read text for scholars, policymakers, practitioners, and anyone committed to educational justice."

—Marc Lamont Hill, author of Seen and Unseen

"America has failed to keep two promises to its students—to desegregate their schools and to fund them equitably. Liu digs deeply into the funding inequities that exist in one state, Pennsylvania, that serves as a template for almost every state. This is an important book."

—Gloria Ladson Billings, author of Justice Matters

"A welcome and much-needed analysis, Liu lays to rest common assumptions about funding inequities in schools and provides a powerful, clear, unapologetic racial analysis of school finance, one that draws attention to structural racism behind school funding in Pennsylvania and nationwide, the actors who enable racism to persist, and those who relentlessly work to challenge it. This is an important read for those who want to understand and address this enduring injustice of school funding in the United States."

—Erica Turner, author of Suddenly Diverse

Roseann Liu profile picture

Roseann Liu is an assistant professor of education studies at Wesleyan University and a visiting assistant professor of Asian American studies and educational studies at Swarthmore College. Her public scholarship has appeared in the Inquirer, WHYY/NPR, Colorlines, and Hechinger Report.

Photo credit: Noel Li

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