Charter schools have been promoted as an equitable and innovative solution to the problems plaguing urban schools. Advocates claim that charter schools benefit working-class students of color by offering them access to a "portfolio" of school choices. 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 was developed—shows that such 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.
In this revealing book, Buras draws on critical theories of race, political economy, and space, as well as a decade of research on the ground to expose the criminal dispossession of black teachers and students who have contributed to New Orleans' culture and history. Mapping federal, state, and local policy networks, she shows how the city's landscape has been reshaped by a strategic venture to privatize public education. She likewise chronicles grassroots efforts to defend historic schools and neighborhoods against this assault, revealing a commitment to equity and place and articulating a vision of change that is sure to inspire heated debate among communities nationwide.
Table of Contents
Black Education in the South:
Critical Race Reflections on the Historic Policy Landscape
The Assault on Black Children by Education Entrepreneurs:
Charter Schools, Whiteness, and Accumulation by Dispossession
Keeping King Elementary School on the Map:
Racial Resistance and the Politics of Place in the Lower 9th Ward
The Closing of Douglass High School:
Counterstories on the Master's Plan for Reconstruction
The Culture of the Education Market:
Teach for America, Union Busting, and the Displacement of Black Veteran Teachers
New Orleans—A Guide for Cities or a Warning for Communities?
Lessons Learned from the Bottom-Up
(with Urban South Grassroots Research Collective)
Kristen Buras is an Associate Professor in the Department of Educational Policy Studies at Georgia State University. She is the author of Rightist Multiculturalism and coeditor of The Subaltern Speak. She is also cofounder and director of Urban South Grassroots Research Collective for Public Education.
Buras does an excellent job of explaining the realities of the privatization of public schools in New Orleans. Her recounting of the history of public education in New Orleans connects the dots on today's corporate reforms, which have made the disenfranchisement of poor and minority children "politically correct" in the 21st century. --Raynard Sanders, Educational consultant and radio host of The New Orleans Imperative
As Buras shows in this decade-long tour de force of theoretically grounded investigative research, rather than a national reform model advancing new democratic possibilities, the New Orleans market-based charter school experiment threatens to exacerbate racial and economic injustice. What is happening in New Orleans is nothing short of an unconscionable colonial project that we cannot ignore, and it will affect black education nationally for decades to come. --Joyce E. King, Benjamin E. Mays Endowed Chair for Urban Teaching, Learning & Leadership, Georgia State University, USA and President-elect, The American Educational Research Association
Buras provides an essential look at how communities are engaging in, resisting, and making sense of a slate of educational reforms they had little say in designing. With incisive analysis, Buras helps to direct much-needed attention to the experiences of students, parents, and community members as local public schools are reformed into quasi-private entities. By examining the elite networks shaping schooling in New Orleans and cities around the country, this book calls us to consider the relationship between educational privatization and the ongoing racial and social inequalities that continue to characterize schooling in the United States. --Janelle Scott, Graduate School of Education & African American Studies, University of California at Berkeley, USA