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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.

Bree Picower, Assistant Professor at Montclair State University, received her PhD from New York University. She is the author of Practice What You Teach: Social Justice Education in the Classroom and the Streets. Picower is a core member of the New York Collective of Radical Educators (NYCoRE) and a founding member of the national Teacher Activist Groups network.
Edwin Mayorga, Assistant Professor at Swarthmore College, is a doctoral candidate at the Graduate Center-CUNY. His project, Education in our Barrios (#BarrioEdProj), is a digital and participatory study of education reform and urban space. He is a member of NYCoRE.