Scholars typically frame the subgroup problem in education in terms of protecting religious minorities from majoritarian encroachment. This essay explores a different aspect of the subgroup problem: what happens when an antidemocratic religious minority becomes a local majority responsible for the promotion of the public good? This essay uses the takeover and plundering of a public school district by Hasidic Jews in New York State as a case study. The settler colonist orientation of the Hasidim uniquely situates them to take advantage of the legacies of nineteenth-century school districting laws, but that same orientation leads them to grossly antidemocratic behaviors that victimize children of color. In such a case, democracy demands state intervention into the much-cherished arena of democratic localism. For advocates of church-state cooperation in the management of public schooling, this case provides a cautionary tale about the critical importance of substantive commitments to democratic values.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- public education