Thursday, May 23, 2013

Erasing History

The Chicago School closings are part and parcel of a strategy for remaking the American metropolis as a center for spatial and economic transformations which will further cement economic inequality. One key component of this strategy is demographic inversion- moving the poor out of the center city into the periphery, where they will no longer be able to physically or politically threaten the global elites who will be working and playing in the redeveloped Center. This process is already well under way in cities like New York, Chicago, Washington and Milwaukee- with the result being that more poor people now live in suburbs than in cities- but for poor people who remain in cities, the elite's preferred strategy is intrusive, "stop and frisk" policing  and the transformation of public schools into  sites of draconian discipline  where compliance and obedience are the preferred behaviors, strategies taken to the highest point of perfection by some of the nation's most celebrated charter schools.

 Where do school closings fit in this elaborate strategy to scatter and neutralize the poor? Public schools in poor neighborhoods, even those whose test scores mark them as "failing," are important centers of community life, places where different generations of people interact and mark their connection to historical space.  They contain memories of families raised, community arts forms celebrated, sports victories won, powerful friendships forged. If you ignore those experiences and reduce the school to its failures, you erase a communities history and make that community easier to divide and disperse

 Underlying School Closings is a world view which marks off residents of poor communities, not just the schools in them as failures, people who have to be dispersed, incarcerated, disciplined and divided for the Global Metropolis to prosper

It reveals the profound moral bankruptcy and cynicism pervading neo-liberal economic policies, whether they have a Democratic or Republican facade

1 comment:

Michael Fiorillo said...

A very important post, but it should also be pointed out that Barack Obama, and in particular his close advisor, Valerie Jarrett, were instrumental in bringing about that spacial and demographic re-organization in Chicago. Thus, his support for so-called education reform, charter schools and privatization has been consistent over the years, and of a piece with the neoliberal project.