Walter Stern

Associate Professor

(504) 655-3234

203 Education Building

1000 Bascom Mall

Madison, WI 53706

Stern, Walter

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Walter C. Stern is Assistant Professor of Educational Policy Studies and History at University of Wisconsin–Madison. His research examines intersections between racism, state action, and ordinary people’s lives in the nineteenth- and twentieth-century United States, with a focus on public schools and the metropolitan South. He is the author of Race & Education in New Orleans: Creating the Segregated City, 1764-1960, which received the 2018 Williams Prize for the best book on Louisiana history. His current book project explores the criminalization of Black youth during the desegregation era and the role that school officials, police, prosecutors, legislators, and judges played in that process. This project focuses on the case of Gary Tyler, a Black teenager who was imprisoned for nearly 42 years after being wrongfully convicted of fatally shooting a white student at their desegregating Louisiana high school in 1974.


  • PhD History, Tulane University, 2014
  • MA History, Tulane University, 2010
  • BA American Studies, Yale University, 2001

Select Publications

  • Stern, W. (2023). Where Protection Meets Punishment: Public Education and the Carceral State in Urban America. Journal of Urban History, 49(5), 963–973. Online Publication/Abstract.
  • Stern, W. (2023). Special Section: Public Education and the Carceral State. Journal of Urban History, 49(5), 963–1129.
  • Stern, W. (2023). School Violence and the Carceral State in the 1970s: Desegregation and the New Educational Inequality in Louisiana. Journal of Southern History, 89(3), 483–534.
  • Stern, W. (2023). We Got to Fight for What We Want’: Black School Rebellions in Louisiana, 1965–1974. Teachers College Record, 125(3), 319–349. Online Publication/Abstract.
  • Stern, W. (2021). The Hidden Politics of High School Violence. New Perspectives on the History of the Twentieth-Century American High School Cham, Switzerland: Palgrave Macmillan.
  • Stern, W. (2021). “A truly ‘patriotic education’ requires critical analysis of US history,”. The Hill Online Publication/Abstract.
  • Stern, W. (2020). Why Desegregation Matters: Educational Inequality and the Pursuit of Democracy. Journal of Urban History, 46(3), 691–700. DOI.
  • Stern, W. (2019). Historian: New Orleans’ swap of school building for field can't offset decades of racial discrimination. New Orleans Advocate Online Publication/Abstract.
  • Stern, W. (2018). Long before Ruby’s Walk: New Orleans Schools, Race, and Thinking beyond Backlash. Journal of African American History, 103(4), 526-559. DOI.
  • Stern, W. (2018). Race and Education in New Orleans: Creating the Segregated City, 1764- 1960. Baton Rouge, LA: Louisiana State University Press.

Select Presentations

  • Stern, W. (2021, April). Youth, Race, and Incarceration in the World’s Prison Capital. Paper presented at the Education for Imprisonment.
  • Stern, W. (2017, November). School Desegregation’s Forgotten History of School Violence. Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the History of Education Society, Little Rock, Ark.
  • Stern, W. (2017, September). Beyond Backlash: The 150-Year Battle Over Schools, Race, and the Future of New Orleans. Paper presented at the Association for the Study of African American Life and History, Cincinnati, Ohio.
  • Stern, W. (2016, October). An Educational Soweto: Public Schools, Low-Income Housing, and the Making of the Second Ghetto. Paper presented at the Biennial Urban History Association Conference, Chicago, IL.

Select Awards and Honors

  • Dianne Woest Fellowship in the Arts and Humanities, Historic New Orleans Collection, 2019
  • Monroe Fellowship, New Orleans Center for the Gulf South, Tulane University, 2019
  • National Academy of Education/Spencer Post-doctoral Fellowship, National Academy of Education, (2018, 2019)
  • The Kemper and Leila Williams Prize in Louisiana History, for Race and Education in New Orleans, Best Book on Louisiana History, Louisiana Historical Association and Historic New Orleans Collection, 2018
  • Claude A. Eggertsen Dissertation Prize, History of Education Society, 2015