Marketing Schools, Marketing Cities: Who Wins and Who Loses When Schools Become Urban Amenities

Marketing Schools, Marketing Cities: Who Wins and Who Loses When Schools Become Urban Amenities

Maia Bloomfield Cucchiara

Language: English

Pages: 304

ISBN: 022601682X

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

Discuss real estate with any young family and the subject of schools is certain to come up—in fact, it will likely be a crucial factor in determining where that family lives. Not merely institutions of learning, schools have increasingly become a sign of a neighborhood’s vitality, and city planners have ever more explicitly promoted “good schools” as a means of attracting more affluent families to urban areas, a dynamic process that Maia Bloomfield Cucchiara critically examines in Marketing Schools, Marketing Cities.
Focusing on Philadelphia’s Center City Schools Initiative, she shows how education policy makes overt attempts to prevent, or at least slow, middle-class flight to the suburbs. Navigating complex ethical terrain, she balances the successes of such policies in strengthening urban schools and communities against the inherent social injustices they propagate—the further marginalization and disempowerment of lowerclass families. By asking what happens when affluent parents become “valued customers,” Marketing Schools, Marketing Cities uncovers a problematic relationship between public institutions and private markets, where the former are used to leverage the latter to effect urban transformations.











forthright about their desire to provide their children with a better education. Rhonda, an African American mother living in West Philadelphia who worked as a mid-level manager in Center City, explained to me that she “went to the schools in [her] area, but wasn’t really happy with them.” Then she learned 62 chapter three of the Big Three schools in Center City and thought they would be a better option. She toured all the schools and eventually chose Grant because she liked its diverse

year before the academic year in which they wanted to enroll their children. According to School District of Philadelphia Policy and Procedures section 102.2, “Transfer into other than neighborhood school (EH-36),” all decisions about transfer applications were made by the Office for School Operations, which would then inform parents about the status of their request. Siblings of currently enrolled students generally received preference. institutions of last resort 63 District written policy

assuming too much control over the school. At one meeting late in 2004 (seven months after the meeting in which Janice objected to Grant’s designation as a “Cobble Square school”), PTO president Sara again expressed her concerns about Ms. Ashton, referring this time to the many complaints she had heard from teachers about Ms. Ashton’s behavior toward them. When she did, several African American parents at the meeting objected, saying that the PTO should not get involved with a “teachers’ issue.”

option will be taken up widely and effectively.”5 At Grant, middle-class parents often used “voice,” working as activists to change the school. However, they did so with the threat of exit in the background (making it clear that if they were not satisfied, they would remove their children from Grant). On the other hand, the conditions that empowered professional par­ ents disempowered the parents of transfer students, many of whom were working class and African American. As a result, these

for school improvement and family involvement.39 While treatments of market influences on public education are often abstract, removed from the actual policies and practices of schools and school districts, this book takes a different approach. It aims to contribute to the conversation about the interplay between market forces and public institutions by showing how it manifests at the local level, in a particular city, school district, and school. a strategic opportunity 13 “Market” is a

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