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What’s Race Got To Do With It?

How Current School Reform Policy Maintains Racial and Economic Inequality


Edited By Bree Picower and Edwin Mayorga

Within critical discussions of school reform, researchers and activists are often of two camps. Some focus their analyses on neoliberal economic agendas, while others center on racial inequality. These analyses often happen in isolation, continuing to divide those concerned with educational justice into «It’s race!» vs. «It’s class!» camps. What’s Race Got To Do With It? brings together these frameworks to investigate the role that race plays in hallmark policies of neoliberal school reforms such as school closings, high-stakes testing, and charter school proliferation. The group of scholar activist authors in this volume were selected because of their cutting-edge racial economic analysis, understanding of corporate reform, and involvement in grassroots social movements. Each author applies a racial economic framework to inform and complicate our analysis of how market-based reforms collectively increase wealth inequality and maintain White supremacy. In accessible language, contributors trace the historical context of a single reform, examine how that reform maintains and expands racial and economic inequality, and share grassroots stories of resistance to these reforms. By analyzing current reforms through this dual lens, those concerned with social justice are better equipped to struggle against this constellation of reforms in ways that unite rather than divide.

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About the editors


Bree Picower is an Assistant Professor at Montclair State University in the College of Education and Human Development. Her book, Practice What You Teach: Social Justice Education in the Classroom and the Streets, explores a developmental continuum toward teacher activism. She co-edits Planning to Change the World: A Planbook for Social Justice Teachers published by the New York Collective of Radical Educators (NYCoRE) and the Education for Liberation Network. Her recent scholarly articles have appeared in Teachers College Record, Teacher Education Quarterly, and Race, Ethnicity and Education. She has taught in public elementary schools in Oakland, California, and New York City. As a core leader of NYCoRE and founding member of the national Teacher Activist Groups network, Bree works to create spaces for educators to sharpen their political analysis and act for educational justice. Resources and publications affiliated with her work can be found at and she can be reached at

Edwin Mayorga is an Assistant Professor at Swarthmore College in the Department of Educational Studies. His ongoing project, Education in our Barrios #BarrioEdProj, is a digital, critical participatory action research project (D+CPAR) based in Latino core communities in cities in the northeastern United States. Working with local youth co-researchers, #BarrioEdProj traces the discursive and material effects of racialized neoliberal urbanism on, in, and through these communities. His recent scholarly articles have appeared in Journal of Interactive Technology, Pedagogy, Peace and Conflict: Journal of Peace Psychology, and Multicultural Perspectives. He was an elementary...

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