How Current School Reform Policy Maintains Racial and Economic Inequality
Edited By Bree Picower and Edwin Mayorga
3. School Closings: The Nexus of White Supremacy, State Abandonment, and Accumulation by Dispossession
On May 22, 2013, Chicago’s mayor-appointed Board of Education voted to close 49 neighborhood elementary schools and one high school, affecting around 40,000 students. The decision followed seven tumultuous months of protest in which literally tens of thousands of parents, students, teachers, and community members testified at public hearings, marched, picketed, sat in, held press conferences and vigils, and more to stop their schools from being closed. The 2013 closings were on top of more than 10 years of drastic school actions in which the board closed, phased out, consolidated, or turned around 105 neighborhood public schools. Massive school closings have similarly hit New York, the District of Columbia, Detroit, Philadelphia, and other urban districts (Gym, 2013; Pedroni, 2011; Vevea, 2013). Beginning in fall 2014, New Orleans will not have a single traditional neighborhood public school left (Layton, 2014b). At the same time, these districts have expanded privately operated charter schools and provided new selective enrollment schools targeted to affluent and White students.
This policy is remaking the race and class landscape of K–12 education in the United States as a constitutive part of the spatial, economic, and racial restructuring of cities themselves (Lipman, 2011). Understanding the social, economic, and political logics underlying this process, as well as its consequences for working-class students, families, and communities of Color, is crucial to develop strategies to resist these policies and to supersede them with a community and educator-driven agenda of educational equity...
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