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.
BREE PICOWER AND EDWIN MAYORGA
Often in educational justice circles and critical discussions of educational policy, researchers and activists are of two camps. Some (i.e., Apple, 2001; Compton & Weiner, 2008; Hursh, 2007) have importantly focused on the neoliberal turn in education reform. Such frameworks focus on how market-based reforms and privatization-driven policies have reproduced and expanded economic inequality. Other scholars (Frankenberg, 2012; Lynn, Yosso, Solórzano, & Parker, 2002) have centered on race and growing racial inequality as evidenced by opportunity gaps, the school-to-prison pipeline, and segregated schools. These analyses often happen in isolation from each other, 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 is an attempt to bring together these often isolating frameworks to ask what role race plays in some of the hallmark policies of current school reforms such as school closing, high-stakes testing, and the proliferation of charter schools. Examining one individual policy strand of neoliberal school reform, each chapter in this book uses a lens similar to Leonardo’s (2009) racial economic analytic framework, where “racial hierarchies and class exploitation occur in a symbiotic relationship and that changes in one produce changes in the other” (p. 8). By looking at these reforms through this racial economic framework, this edited volume complicates our analysis of how market-based reforms increase wealth inequality and maintain White supremacy. By analyzing current reforms through this dual lens, those concerned with...
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