Education Reform, Communities and Social Justice: Exploring the Intersections

Posted by Rutgers University on April 4, 2016

May 20, 2016
Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy
New Brunswick, NJ

Over the past twenty years, neoliberal school reforms have gained increasing momentum across the United States, emphasizing school choice, market discipline, standardized testing, high-stakes evaluation, privatized management, and the reframing of public education as a site for capital investment. These reforms intersect with cities and communities in complex ways. Critics argue that neoliberal reforms exacerbate educational inequalities and can have dramatically differential consequences for low-income and wealthier communities.

Understanding the intersections between these reform strategies and questions of social justice, community development, and urban policy calls for interdisciplinary engagement that bridges the confines of traditional academic disciplines. Increasingly, scholars of psychology, education, politics, sociology, urban studies, economics, planning and many other fields are asking what broader impacts neoliberal efforts to reform public education are having, particularly on our most vulnerable communities.

Education and Poverty: How does education intersect with cycles of poverty and neighborhood investment/disinvestment? How does or should it help to break those cycles? Is the primary purpose of education to prepare children for the workforce?

School Closings: What is the relationship between poverty and how we define schools as failing? Do school closings disproportionately hurt low-income communities of color?

School Choice: Do market models make sense in education? What has been the effect of charter school development on educational inequality? What are the implications of “no excuses” charter school discipline policies?

Testing: Does standardized testing reinforce or reduce race and/or income based educational inequities? Who is participating in the high-stakes testing refusal movement and why? Do some people and/or companies benefit disproportionately?

Tenure Reform: Are teachers in low-income schools more likely to be fired? Are Black teachers disproportionately impacted by tenure reform? What kind of teachers are we selecting for?

To further this important conversation, the Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy at Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ is hosting a one day convening to bring together researchers studying the diverse implications of recent school reforms, to share their findings and ideas, and to help shape a broader collective research agenda.

All are welcome to attend and participate in the conversation.

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