Learning in Public

Lessons for a Racially Divided America from My Daughter's School


By Courtney E. Martin

Read by Courtney E. Martin

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  1. Audiobook Download (Unabridged) $27.99
  2. ebook $11.99 $15.99 CAD
  3. Trade Paperback $18.99 $23.99 CAD

This item is a preorder. Your payment method will be charged immediately, and the product is expected to ship on or around August 3, 2021. This date is subject to change due to shipping delays beyond our control.

This "provocative and personally searching"memoir follows one mother's story of enrolling her daughter in a local public school (San Francisco Chronicle), and the surprising, necessary lessons she learned with her neighbors.

From the time Courtney E. Martin strapped her daughter, Maya, to her chest for long walks, she was curious about Emerson Elementary, a public school down the street from her Oakland home. She learned that White families in their gentrifying neighborhood largely avoided the majority-Black, poorly-rated school. As she began asking why, a journey of a thousand moral miles began.
Learning in Public is the story, not just Courtney’s journey, but a whole country’s. Many of us are newly awakened to the continuing racial injustice all around us, but unsure of how to go beyond hashtags and yard signs to be a part of transforming the country. Courtney discovers that her public school, the foundation of our fragile democracy, is a powerful place to dig deeper.  
Courtney E. Martin examines her own fears, assumptions, and conversations with other moms and dads as they navigate school choice. A vivid portrait of integration’s virtues and complexities, and yes, the palpable joy of trying to live differently in a country re-making itself. Learning in Public might also set your family’s life on a different course forever. 

  • “Writing with equal passion as a journalist and a mother, Courtney Martin interrogates the history and the moral contradictions of “elite parenting,” gentrification, and school choice. She lives the question of how to chart a new way forward with her daughter in their neighborhood. This is a kind of modeling our society needs – as openly messy as the work of remaking our world.”
    Krista Tippett, host of On Being and author of Becoming Wise
  • “Courtney Martin reveals the tensions that progressive parents grapple with when choosing schools for their children in a limited market for “good” schools.  She inspires us to ask necessary questions about race, class, and education in a country that has not yet achieved justice for all.”
    Dr. Dena Simmons, Founder of LiberatED and author White Rules for Black People
  • “White parents want to be instruments of change, yet don’t want our own children to 'suffer.' We want to raise anti-racists, yet segregate our kids in 'good' schools dominated by families that look like us. Courtney Martin wrestles with all of these hopes and conundrums in ways that are personal, heartfelt and, especially now, profoundly necessary.”
    Peggy Orenstein, author of Girls & Sex and Boys & Sex
  • “If you have ever wondered what school choice means for white families who profess racial justice and understand that, in the United States, with whom we learn is as important as what we learn, then this is a book for you. Courtney Martin understands that the choices white families make about how and with whom their children live and learn is a way to share in the doing of justice across racial divides.  Honest, human, real and necessary, Learning in Public is a triumph.”
    Noliwe Rooks, author of Cutting School: The Segrenomics of American Education
  • “There is so much love in these pages. Courtney’s capacity to empathize with and challenge White parents’ notions of what is best for our children and our communities is what makes this book so compelling and necessary right now. She’s a master at calling out our bullshit while still calling us together.”
    Whitney Kimball Coe, Vice President at Center for Rural Strategies
  • “Is it possible to integrate with integrity? To advance justice one school choice at a time? Courtney Martin the writer asks such questions. Courtney Martin the mother, neighbor, and citizen lives them. Learning in Public is a powerful, unflinching chronicle of responsibility-taking: what it feels like, what it costs, what it makes possible.”
    Eric Liu, CEO of Citizen University and author, Become America
  • “I'm so grateful to Courtney Martin for writing Learning In Public, for so many reasons. For one, I now have the book to hand to my White parent friends when they start talking about what school they're going to choose for their kids. Two, Courtney shows White people in particular how to walk the walk and talk the talk—and how neither process is easy, orderly, or what we expect—and hope—it will be. Three, she reminds us that being a "good parent" and a "good citizen" isn't about knowing all the answers, or being the smartest one in the room. It's about being willing to not know. To be curious, to listen, to try, to fail, and to accept that morality is messy. With Learning in Public, Courtney offers the kind of radically vulnerable intelligence that we can all use much more of.”  
    Kate Schatz, New York Times bestselling author of Rad American Women A-Z and Rad Women Worldwide

On Sale
Aug 3, 2021
Hachette Audio

Courtney E. Martin

About the Author

Courtney E. Martin is a writer living with her family in a co-housing community in Oakland. She has a popular Substack newsletter, called Examined Family, and speaks widely at conferences and colleges through out the country. She is also the co-founder of the Solutions Journalism Network, FRESH Speakers Bureau, and the Bay Area chapter of Integrated Schools. Her happy place is asking people questions. Learning in Public is her fourth book.

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