Race, class, and place in Philadelphia’s school closure debate

Posted by Journal of Urban Affairs on November 28, 2016

Invoking landscapes of spatialized inequality: Race, class, and place in Philadelphia’s school closure debate.
Journal of Urban Affairs. doi: 10.1080/07352166.2016.1245069

This article considers the intersection of school closure recommendations in Philadelphia in 2013 with neighborhood race and class demographics and explores how neighborhood stakeholders situated themselves in space in protesting school closures. Quantitative analysis reveals that census tracts where schools were slated for closure had disproportionately lower income and higher representation of African American residents than those tracts without closure recommendations. Qualitative analysis of testimony at public meetings and subsequent interviews with neighborhood stakeholders highlights 3 ways in which stakeholders invoked their spatial positionality on this landscape: (1) by framing school closure as confirmation and perpetuation of past place-based inequities and marginalization, (2) by describing school closure as a burden unequally borne by poor and African-American communities, and (3) by portraying school closure as a harbinger of displacement. The article highlights the ways in which stakeholders rooted schools in place in racialized political economic space, countering the aspatial logics of marketized school reforms.


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