We speak with Dr. Mark Santow, Chair of the Department of History at the University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth. Dr. Santow and his middle school son, along with 12 other plaintiffs, are suing the state of Rhode Island in federal court under the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution for failing to provide civics curricula and other components of an adequate education to some Rhode Island students. The suit is especially notable because most education equity cases are brought in state courts. We discuss the racial, socioeconomic, and political underpinnings of educational inequality.


00:00-01:29 Intros

01:30-06:21 Cook v Raimondo lawsuit background

06:22-08:02 A constitutional right to an education

08:03-09:44 Why Rhode Island and why now

09:45-11:27 Lack of civics and unequal funding

11:28-14:37 A vision of a civics curriculum

14:38-17:16 Rose of ethics/ethical decision-making in a civics course

17:17-19:40 Federal courts’ resistance to accepting adequate education as a constitutional right

19:41-21:23 Relationship to slavery/race

21:24-24:19 Can education system compensate for economic inequality

24:20-26:23 Civics as center of entire curriculum could be transformative

26:24-29:02 Public organizing and the lawsuit

29:03-29:45 Outro


Click here to see the full transcription of this episode. 


  • Click here to listen to Mark Santow giving us an update on this case.
  • Click here to read Judge William E. Smith’s decision in this case. 


Photo: Unsplash

Soundtrack by Podington Bear