Acting Toward Social Change
Edited By David J. Connor, Jan W. Valle and Chris Hale
12. A Disability Studies in Education Analysis of Corporate-Based Educational Reform: Lessons From New Orleans
The city of New Orleans was ravaged by Hurricane Katrina in August 2005. Before the initial flood waters had receded, the city was hit by a second flood of privatized school reform that dismantled the existing public school system. As a result, New Orleans currently has the largest percentage of students enrolled in charter schools of any district in the United States, a “market share” of 84% as of the 2012–2013 academic year (Cowen Institute, 2013, p. 7).
Media reports have upheld New Orleans as an example of the success of privatized school reform, citing improvements in student measures on test scores and college acceptance rates as evidence (Anderson, 2010; Cowen Institute, 2013; Gabor, 2013; New York Times, 2011). However, little attention has been paid to understanding the constellation of effects that the discourses and policies of corporate school reform in New Orleans have had on students with complex support needs. In this chapter, I take up this issue from the perspective of disability studies in education (DSE), an orientation that argues for an examination of the institutional and cultural practices of schooling that shape the appearance, manifestation, and consequences of dis/ability (Collins, 2013; Connor & Gabel, 2013). Drawing on DSE, I examine the discourses and policies of school reform in post-Katrina New Orleans to identify the dominant narrative and how it positions students with complex support needs. I then make visible the profound effects of these policies and practices with...
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