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Charter Schools, Race, and Urban Space: Where the Market Meets Grassroots Resistance

ISBN: 9780415660501 | 0415660505
Edition: 1st
Format: Hardcover
Publisher: Routledge
Pub. Date: 7/14/2014

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Charter schools have been promoted as an equitable and innovative solution to problems plaguing urban schools across the United States. Through educational markets, advocates of the system claim that working-class students of color have access to a "portfolio" of promising schools that serve their best interests. In Charter Schools, Race, and Urban Space, Kristen Buras presents a very different account. Her case study of New Orleans-where veteran teachers were fired en masse and the nation's first all-charter school district is emerging-shows that such nationwide reform is less about the needs of racially oppressed communities and more about the production of an urban space economy in which white entrepreneurs capitalize on black children and neighborhoods by building and managing charter schools. In this revealing book, Buras maps the policy networks at the federal, state, and local levels that have reshaped the landscape of New Orleans as part of a strategic venture to privatize public education and engineer cities around their accumulative interests. Drawing on critical theories of race, political economy, and space, and more than five years of research on the ground, she exposes the criminal dispossession of black communities and the teachers and students who have contributed to the city's culture and history. Grassroots efforts to defend historic schools and neighborhoods against this assault are likewise chronicled, revealing a commitment to equity, culture, and place that is distinct from the racial-spatial vision of the reformers. Original photos and maps illuminate these complex struggles over space as a cultural marker and a material resource. Is there a democratic future for charter schools? Buras argues conservative influence has only exacerbated inequities and deepened the confluence of capital accumulation, property rights, and whiteness. This damning account of experimentation in New Orleans is a warning to communities nationally and globally, as entrepreneurs and state allies embrace this blueprint for change. This book's trenchant analysis is sure to stimulate heated debate among stakeholders far beyond the urban south.

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