We don’t care who you are’: Race, space, and dispossession in New York’s charter school co-location reform | J Benson | Policy Futures in Education

In the United States, charter school proliferation remains a top priority for neoliberal education reformers and their private sector allies. Such schools are owned and run by private operators yet receive public funding, resulting in large transfers of public assets into private hands. Co-location facilitates this process by providing charters rent-free space within existing public school buildings. The author argues that New York’s 2014 co-location reform, which guarantees co-location or rental assistance for the city’s charter schools, produces school space in ways that create new circuits for the accumulation of capital by the private sector, while at the same time putting into circulation hegemonic imaginations of the relationship of race to school space. Co-location reform enlists school space within neoliberalism’s color-blind and meritocratic racial ideology: reformers like New York Governor Andrew Cuomo “don’t care who you are” because achievement is seen as the result of hard work and good choices made in free markets, and co-location will extend educational markets to families of color who have heretofore been excluded. Using the co-location of Success Academy Charter Schools as a case, the author argues that co-location reform, animated by a “white spatial imaginary,” both obscures and exploits the racialized process of organized abandonment that underwrites neoliberal capitalism.

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