This article can be found in the current issue of the Journal of Urban Affairs regarding Unequal Schools and Communities: A Critical Examination of Neoliberal Education Reform.
This article currently has free access and is available to read and download.
Challenging the market logic of school choice: A spatial analysis of charter school expansion in Chicago, by Stephanie Farmer , Chris D. Poulos & Ashley Baber
Corporate education reformers take for granted that market competition in the public schools system will improve education conditions. We conducted a spatial analysis of Chicago Public Schools, examining the spatial features of charter school expansion in relation to under-18 population decline, school utilization, and school closure locations. Our findings indicate that 69% of new charter schools were opened in areas with significantly declining under-18 population and approximately 80% of charter schools were opened within walking distance of closed school locations. Our findings show, contrary to corporate education reform logic, that a competitive charter school market created spatial and financial inefficiencies resulting in school closures and system-wide budgetary cuts primarily impacting distressed neighborhoods. We explain the overproduction of charter schools through the lens of the firm-like behavior of charter school operators driven by a self-interested growth mandate that can undermine the stability of the public schools system as a whole.