1st Edition

Middle-class School Choice in Urban Spaces The economics of public schooling and globalized education reform

By Emma Rowe Copyright 2017
    216 Pages
    by Routledge

    212 Pages
    by Routledge

    Middle-class School Choice in Urban Spaces examines government-funded public schools from a range of perspectives and scholarship in order to examine the historical, political and economic conditions of public schooling within a globalized, post-welfare context. In this book, Rowe argues that post-welfare policy conditions are detrimental to government-funded public schools, as they engender consistent pressure in rearticulating the public school in alignment with the market, produce tensions in serving the more historical conceptualizations of public schooling, and are preoccupied by contemporary profit-driven concerns.

    Chapters focus on public schooling from different global perspectives, with examples from Chile and the US, to examine how various social movements encapsulate ideologies around public schooling. Rowe also draws upon a rich, five-year ethnographic study of campaigns lobbying the Victorian State Government in Australia for a brand-new, local-specific public school. Critical attention is paid to the public school as a means to achieve empowerment and overcome discrimination, and both a local and global lens are used to identify how parents choose the public school, the values they attach to it, and the strategies they use to obtain it. Also considered, however, are how quality gaps, distances and differences between public schools threaten to undermine the democracy of education as a means for individuals to be socially mobile and escape poverty.

    This book makes an important contribution to our understanding of global social movements and activism around public education. As such, it will be of key interest to researchers, academics and postgraduate students in the field of education, specifically those working on school choice, class and identity, as well as educational geography.

    1. The derivatives and dissolution of public schooling in the global landscape 2. Social movements for public education 3. Campaigning for choice 4. Glocalization and evocations of whiteness in the local education market 5. Private versus public schools 6. White flight and repopulating the urban public high school 7. Rebranding and marketing the urban public school 8. After neoliberalism: social democracy within the corporate economy Appendix A: Methodology and datasets Index


    Emma Rowe is is a lecturer in the School of Education at Deakin University, Australia.

    ‘Emma Rowe’s ambitious and insightful book masterfully explores and charts the new conceptions of public education as embedded in, or aligned with, the logic of markets.  She pulls off an amazing feat of integrating global patterns with on-the-ground evidence, highlighting both the intellectual and social roots of this world-wide movement.  The result is a remarkable analysis of the winners (and losers) in a new competitive and contested landscape of "public" schooling.’

    Christopher Lubienski, Professor of Education Policy, Indiana University, USA.

    Middle-class School Choice in Urban Spaces brilliantly conveys the extent to which public education across the globe has become a site of struggle and contestation. We gain a rich and vivid sense of the contradictions and tensions that arise for the middle classes as they strive to juggle commitments to the public with private interests. At the centre of the book is a carefully considered and nuanced ethnography of middle class educational campaigning which provides a powerful springboard for a wide ranging and convincing analysis of class work within education that has worldwide significance.’

    Diane Reay, Professor of Education, University of Cambridge, UK.

    ‘Rowe presents an incisive and original account of how class and race traverse the dynamic political terrain of contemporary school reform. The monograph subjects policy and social movements across the globe to a sophisticated analysis, drawing expertly on rich institutional and ethnographic sources. An extremely useful contribution to public education scholarship.’

    Joel Windle, Adjunct Senior Researcher, Monash University, Australia.

    ‘This theoretically rich ethnography provides an important global perspective to studies of school choice and the marketization of education.’Maia Cucchiara, Associate Professor of Urban Education Policy, Temple University, USA.

    'Middle-class school choice in urban spaces offers rich and multifaceted analysis of the inscription of middle classness in public education, and creates the space to think more deeply about the ways in which public schooling is being transformed, and can be transformed. In this book, Rowe has struck a tension in the campaigns for and struggle over public education, and one that deserves further examination. It opens the space to consider more closely the contested struggles for public education, and the various standpoints and positions from which they emerge, whilst bringing attention to the effects of entrenched inequality within a marketised education system.'

    Jessica Anne Gerrard, Discourse: Studies in the Cultural Politics of Education