Market-Driven Education Reform and the Racial Politics of Advocacy
Janelle T. Scott. 2011. Peabody Journal of Education. 86: 580-599.
What is the landscape of the racial politics of public education in the age of Obama? To what factors can we attribute the seeming educational policy consensus from Washington, DC, to the states and from philanthropies and policy entrepreneurs in urban school districts? How should we understand opposition to the policy menu? This article examines commonsense understandings in education reform, which are supported by assertions that market-based schooling options are superior for children of color, and argues that a primary reason for the popularity of such reforms is an underexamined advocacy coalition, formed nominally around school choice, while also encompassing several other entrepreneurial educational reforms. The article describes the structure of this network, arguing that its dominance has precluded an understanding of counter advocacy against school choice and related reforms. It then describes several past and current movements that challenge commonsense understandings of the reforms’ currency, as a way of pushing back against the reforms’ expansion. The article also discusses the activities of grassroots community groups in response to market-based reforms and argues that these efforts can help to expand public deliberation on complex matters of educational policy. The article concludes with recommendations for further examination of these efforts to highlight the concerns, strategies, and solutions to educational inequality being articulated within communities of color and with their allies.
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