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Political EducationBlack Politics and Education Reform in Chicago since the 1960s$
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Elizabeth Todd-Breland

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9781469646589

Published to North Carolina Scholarship Online: May 2019

DOI: 10.5149/northcarolina/9781469646589.001.0001

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Corporate School Reform

Corporate School Reform

Magnets, Charters, and the Neoliberal Educational Order

(p.179) 6 Corporate School Reform
Political Education

Elizabeth Todd-Breland

University of North Carolina Press

This chapter traces how educational models generated by local community-based Black education organizers in previous decades collided with, and contributed to, neoliberal models of school choice, competition, and privatization. By obscuring and appropriating the intentions of a Black self-determinist politics of Black achievement in service of a neoliberal political agenda, corporate education reformers positioned urban education as a new market for private investment and capital accumulation. The chapter situates Chicago’s education reform policies of the 1980s and 1990s within national debates about the utility of the “Effective Schools” model, shifts to mayoral control of schools, and the proliferation of magnet schools and charter schools. As was the case historically, Black Chicagoans did not respond monolithically to neoliberal educational and political models. Black parents of varying class backgrounds flocked to magnet schools and charter schools. Black teachers in traditional public schools questioned the implications of privatization for hard-fought political and professional gains. Meanwhile, new debates emerged over issues of funding equalization, parent and community involvement in schools, accountability measures, and the value of neighborhood schools. This chapter discusses points of historical continuity and discontinuity in the transition from urban education reform models seeking equity to models promoting market-based “school choice.”

Keywords:   urban education, privatization, school choice, magnet schools, charter schools, Effective Schools, equity, neoliberalism, neighborhood schools, corporate school reform

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