Rucker Johnson Wins Grawemeyer Award in Education

December 9, 2021
By: Goldman School of Public Policy

Rucker JohnsonChancellor's Professor Rucker C. Johnson has won the 2022 Grawemeyer Award in Education for his work on school integration. The $100K prize honors seminal ideas in education, music, world order, psychology, and religion, with an emphasis on “the impact a single idea can have on the world.”

“I am deeply honored and humbled to receive this award,” said Johnson. “I receive it in loving memory of my father, Matthew Johnson, to whom the book is dedicated. And I receive it with the great spirit of gratitude that both of my parents instilled in me. I’m grateful for the mentors who fed my curiosity, who helped me form the foundation of my research, and for being in a profession that allows me to fuse my mind and heart in service of others, especially our youth.”

In his book, Children of the Dream: Why School Integration Works, Johnson studied the life trajectories of more than 15,000 children who grew up during the years school integration was federally enforced in this country. His research found that Black children who attended integrated schools had stronger educational, health, and income outcomes compared to their counterparts who remained in segregated schools. The life outcomes for White children in those integrated schools didn’t change—in other words, they suffered no adverse effects.

“Rucker Johnson is a pioneer in many ways, but his scholarship on social policy raises the bar with cogent and clear-eyed focus,” said Dean David C. Wilson. “A champion of diversity and equity, Rucker’s scientific analyses of social problems through an economic lens provides us with a model for impactful scholarship that improves communities, but also democracy. We are extremely proud of him as a person, a colleague, and the latest Grawemeyer awardee.”

Johnson, whose expertise includes school financing reform and federal funding for Head Start, has advised both state and federal policymakers, including those on Capitol Hill, and at the White House.

“I believe we are each designed to be part of an answer to a problem,” said Johnson. “We must connect our collective ‘answers’—among the research community, practitioners, policymakers, activists, service providers, business leaders—to fulfill the promise of equal educational opportunity for all children.”