In cities across the nation, communities of color find themselves resisting state disinvestment and the politics of dispossession. Students at the Center—a writing initiative based in several New Orleans high schools—takes on this struggle through a close examination of race and schools. This book builds on the powerful stories of marginalized youth and their teachers, who contest the policies that are destructive to their communities: decentralization, charter schools, market-based educational choice, teachers union-busting, mixed-income housing, and urban redevelopment. Striking commentaries from the foremost scholars of the day explore the wider implications of these stories for pedagogy and educational policy in schools across the United States and the globe. Most importantly, this book reveals what must be done to challenge oppressive conditions and democratize our schools by troubling the vision of city elites who seek to elide students’ histories, privatize their schools, and reinvent their neighborhoods.
Contributors include Michael W. Apple, Wayne Au, Adrienne D. Dixson, Maisha T. Fisher, Joyce E. King, Pauline Lipman, and Vanessa Siddle Walker.
Kristen L. Buras is assistant professor of urban education and reform at Emory University. Jim Randels is a veteran public school teacher, founder of Students at the Center, and executive vice president of United Teachers of New Orleans. Kalamu ya Salaam is a writer and producer who co-directs Students at the Center, including its digital media work through Neo-Griot Productions.
“This book is more than a compelling, inspiring read. It is one of the most radical works of collaboration I’ve seen [in the last four decades]. It was forged in the wake of capitalist dreams to expropriate poor black folk, eliminate public housing, privatize public schools, and turn New Orleans into neoliberalism’s model city. We need more challenges to the policies of privatization and more spaces where young people can be agents in their education and architects of our future—a future we can glimpse in this book.”
—From the Foreword by Robin D. G. Kelley, Professor, University of Southern California and author of Freedom Dreams: The Black Radical Imagination
“In this powerfully written book, Buras skillfully weaves poetry with theoretically sophisticated analysis and contributors provide remarkably rich data. Together they affirm the pedagogical significance of critical race counter-storytelling for urban youth of color.”
—Tara J. Yosso, Associate Professor, University of California, Santa Barbara and author of Critical Race Counterstories Along the Chicana/Chicano Educational Pipeline
“In education the neoliberal onslaught of racialized ‘smash and grab’ privatization accelerates unabated, with broad-based global pillaging of the public sector. This book could not be a more timely and valuable example to inspire the critical consciousness necessary to take back public schools.”
—Kenneth J. Saltman, Associate Professor, DePaul University and author of Capitalizing on Disaster: Taking and Breaking Public Schools