Privatizing the school map: a look at charter schools catchment areas in Philadelphia and Atlanta education markets

Authors: Nora Nafaa*, University of Perpignan
Topics: United States, Urban Geography
Keywords: Education, Neoliberalization, Atlanta, Philadelphia
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/5/2019
Start / End Time: 3:05 PM / 4:45 PM
Room: 8224, Park Tower Suites, Marriott, Lobby Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Since the 1980, the education school market in the United States has become more and more complex, offering a panel of options that goes beyond the traditional dichotomy between public and private schools. Even among these categories, a hierarchized offer existed depending on curriculum, tuitions, pedagogies or locations. The introduction of new types of school, among the public offer, has participated in the extension of the range of options available for parents, free to choose. These options came from various education reforms, such as desegregation actions leading to magnet schools, or the creation of charter schools in the context of A Nation at Risk. Through neoliberalization, school districts have seized the opportunity of new types of public schools seen as a solution the crisis they face (financial deficit, enrollment decline, staff turnover…). Each large public school district has argued its own story, leading to the neoliberalization of the education system and authorized the opening of more charter schools. In this communication, I aim to specifically deal with charter schools that have been given a school catchment. Looking at the negotiations between boards of education and charter school organizations, they appear as a trade for the expansion of charter school organizations. The argument is to look at the school catchment given, most of the time the so called « failing » schools, where the charter becomes the only remaining option. In two very different urban context, Philadelphia and Atlanta, we will explore the idea of privatizing the school map.

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