The vast majority of literature that exists on charter schools focuses on student and school outcomes in the hope of answering the question of whether charter schools are "better" than traditional public schools. Largely absent in the literature, however, is an understanding of charter schools within the neighborhood context and a critical examination of the interaction between schools and communities. When placed in the context of neoliberal policies and the history of education reform in the United States, it becomes apparent that non-profit and for-profit school management organizations open charter schools based on market-driven factors largely unrelated to educational quality. This study merges charter school data with neighborhood data in New York City in order to understand the effect that neighborhood composition has on the presence and magnitude of charter schools across neighborhoods in New York City. The findings indicate that charter schools tend to locate in vulnerable communities (as measured by demographic, social, economic, and housing variables), where low levels of economic, social, and cultural capital and high levels of community vulnerability and instability leave these neighborhoods unable to resist the influx of these schools. This study concludes with the implications that the uneven distribution of charter schools across New York City neighborhoods has on children, families, and the nation as it relates to the selective targeting of social groups to create a stratified workforce, the decline in democracy and loss of community control, and the expansion of private equity and concentration of wealth and power in the corporate elite.
Sharps, Sophie, "Who Benefits from the Educational Marketplace? Charter Schools and Neighborhood Composition in New York City" (2016). Sociology Honors Papers. 5.
The views expressed in this paper are solely those of the author.