Closures of urban open-enrollment neighborhood schools that primarily serve students of color are intensely controversial. Districts seeking to economize often justify closures by pointing to population shifts in historically densely populated urban areas. They argue that net reductions in a neighborhood’s school-aged population result in underutilized schools, which do a disservice to students at higher cost to districts. Students and their families and communities counter, pointing to histories of district neglect of their schools and recent school expansions in more affluent neighborhoods of similar population density as belying district claims of utility-based downsizing. In this article, I use a critical discourse analysis (CDA) of Chicago Public Schools’ (CPS) school closure hearings process for William H. King Elementary School to show how affected communities experience formal process-driven school closure as an “abnormal justice” moment, characterized by “misrecognizing” community-based notions of property, “misrepresenting” these interests in how they characterize the school’s value, and “maldistributing” the physical school property through closure. I argue that closing schools in this manner compounds the physical property loss with a “dignity taking” that leaves an “educational desert” in its aftermath, with implications for laws on educational property interests.
Matthew P. Shaw,
Creating the Urban Educational Desert through School Closures and Dignity Taking,
Chi.-Kent L. Rev.
Available at: https://scholarship.kentlaw.iit.edu/cklawreview/vol92/iss3/18