Abolitionist Teaching and the Pursuit of Educational Freedom

Drawing on personal stories, research, and historical events, esteemed educator Dr. Bettina Love offers a vision of educational justice inspired by the rebellious spirit and methods of abolitionists.

Drawing on her life’s work of teaching and researching in urban schools, Dr. Love persuasively argues that educators must teach students about racial violence, oppression, and how to make sustainable change in their communities through radical civic initiatives and movements. She argues that the US educational system is maintained by and profits from the suffering of children of color. Instead of trying to repair a flawed system, educational reformers offer survival tactics in the forms of test-taking skills, acronyms, grit labs, and character education, which Love calls the educational survival complex.

To dismantle the educational survival complex and to achieve educational freedom—not merely reform—teachers, parents, and community leaders must approach education with the imagination, determination, boldness, and urgency of an abolitionist.

Following in the tradition of activists like Ella Baker, Bayard Rustin, and Fannie Lou Hamer, We Want to Do More Than Survive introduces an alternative to traditional modes of educational reform and expands our ideas of civic engagement and intersectional justice.

Dr. Bettina Love
Dr. Bettina Love

A must read!

About the Author

Dr. Bettina L. Love is an award-winning author and the William F. Russell Professor at Teachers College, Columbia University. Her writing, research, teaching, and educational advocacy work meet at the intersection of disrupting education reform and strengthening public education through abolitionist teaching, antiracism, Black joy, and educational reparations.

Dr. Love is the winner of the 2020 Society of Professors of Education Outstanding Book Award. She was named the Nasir Jones Hiphop Fellow at the Hutchins Center for African and African American Research at Harvard University. She has also provided commentary for various news outlets including NPR, PBS, Ed Week, The Guardian, and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Her work has appeared in numerous books and journals, including Educational Researcher, Urban Education, The Urban Review, and the Journal of LGBT Youth.

As part of its 50th anniversary in 2022, the Kennedy Center named Dr. Love one of the Next 50 Leaders who are making the world a more inspired, inclusive, and compassionate place.

Dr. Love is a sought-after public speaker on a range of topics, including abolitionist teaching, education reform, anti-racism, Hip Hop education, Black girlhood, queer youth, educational reparations, Hip Hop feminism, art-based education to foster youth civic engagement, and issues of diversity and inclusion.