Charles M. Payne, Jr. (born March 14, 1948) is an American academic whose areas of study include civil rights activism, urban education reform, social inequality, and modern African-American history. He was the Chief Education Officer for Chicago Public Schools and used to be the Frank P. Hixon Distinguished Service Professor at the University of Chicago's School of Social Service Administration.
Charles Payne received a Bachelor's Degree in Afro-American studies from Syracuse University in 1970 and a Ph.D in sociology from Northwestern University in 1976. He has held professorial positions and endowed chairs at several American institutions, among them Southern University, Williams College, Haverford College, Northwestern, Duke University, where he held the Sally Dalton Robinson Chair for Teaching Excellence, and the University of Chicago (Frank P. Hixon Distinguished Service Professor in the School of Social Service Administration).
Payne has also been active in the creation and direction of several organizations intended to address issues of social justice. He is the founding director of the Urban Education Project in Orange, N.J., a community-based effort to provide advanced career training for local youth. While at Duke, he co-founded the John Hope Franklin Scholars, a program that helps Durham-area high schoolers prepare for and apply to college. His other projects have included the Duke Curriculum Project, the Education for Liberators Network, and work with the Chicago Algebra Project and with the Steering Committee for the Consortium on Chicago School Research.
His most recent books are So Much Reform, So Little Change (Harvard Education Publication Group, 2008 ) and an anthology about the African-American tradition of education for liberation entitled Teach Freedom (Teacher's College Press, 2008).