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.
Appendix: Artifacts of Resistance
We end the book with a set of artifacts of resistance to complement the examples of struggles and social movement that are discussed throughout the book. They are a collection of speeches and actions taken by the educators and youth doing this work every day. First there is a speech by activist Asean Johnson given when he was nine years old, from Chicago, Illinois. Asean has become a nationally prominent speaker against various aspects of racist neoliberal school reform in Chicago and beyond. His reprinted speech from a 2013 rally on school closings in Chicago makes clear the devastating effects of racial, neoliberal reform strategies on youth and their communities. The Dreamyard Action Project is a New York City–based youth organization, and their 10-point platform, modeled after the Black Panthers, was a critical response to the impact of mayoral control. The Teacher Activist Group (TAG) platform provides a national scale response to current school reform. TAG is a network of educator-activist groups from different parts of the country, of which NYCoRE is a member. The platform is an articulation of what these local organizations, collectively, believe to be the foundation for a just educational system for all youth, families, and educators. Finally, we have images and documents from the Stand-Up-Opt-Out campaign organized by the Prospect International High School in Brooklyn, New York. The teachers at the high school refused to administer state exams to their students who are all newly arrived immigrants and were set up to...
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