Grassroots community organizing in the wake of a public school closure
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[ACCESS RESTRICTED TO THE UNIVERSITY OF MISSOURI AT AUTHOR'S REQUEST.] Urban school districts across the country are responding to poor performance, declining enrollments, and budget shortfalls by closing public schools in large numbers. Much of the research to date has focused on the impact of school closure on student achievement; we know little about its broader impact, particularly on the low-income communities of color most affected. This study used qualitative methodology and a participatory action research design to examine the impact of a public school closure on a low-income community of color in Chicago. Findings show that school closure had a range of negative impacts, among them a chaotic and crowded school environment with reduced access to resources, disconnection from social roles and networks for both parents and students, and created further disinvestment in a neighborhood on the edge of gentrification. Grassroots community organizing helped parents and community members make sense of the closure, and engaged them in the educational policy process to work for change. Findings inform our understanding of how one community experienced and reacted to a public school closure, and have implications for both scholars and educational leaders.
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