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Overview of the Book

Each chapter of the book focuses on a single high-profile educational policy issue, analyzing it through a color-evasive, market-driven lens. Following the policy analysis in each chapter, we provide specific examples of ways in which school leaders can instead develop action-oriented solutions that are race-conscious; discussion questions to provoke dialogue among students and their faculty/staff; and additional resources (readings, websites, etc.) for further insight into the particular policy or practice. We conclude the book by presenting a protocol for anti-racist decision-making that educational leaders can use to inform their practices when they must confront color-evasive, market-driven policies. Ultimately, by discussing color-evasive and market-driven education policies in tandem, our book offers a new and important tool for leaders to guide their school communities through change processes that are vital to racial equity work.

In Chapter 1, “Anti-Racism and Color-Evasiveness in a Neoliberal Context: An Introduction,” we have discussed the focus and purpose of the book and defined key concepts and ideas—anti-racism, colorevasiveness, and the racialization of market-driven policies—that will be explored further in subsequent chapters, each featuring a highly debated educational policy issue. For Chapter 2, “How School Leaders Respond to Demographic Change,” we review literature on how school districts in various contexts respond to demographic change. We also examine the policies and practices school leaders design to racially diversify their schools, despite the federal government’s continued reneging on policies like desegregation that seek to diversify district and school settings. We then consider how the market-oriented educational context may push educational leaders to respond to the growing racial diversity in their districts and schools in ways that are color-evasive. We conclude this chapter with examples of anti-racist approaches to promoting racially diverse schooling environments.

Next, in Chapter 3, “School Choice and Who Has a Right to Choose,” we discuss the role of race in school choice and how a policy that was originally intended to promote racial integration by providing multiple schooling options from which students and families can choose has instead created a racially and socioeconomically unequal marketplace. It is assumed that the competition created from opening up the marketplace beyond traditional public school options to charter schools, vouchers, and open-enrollment programs will lead to the creation of higher quality and more efficient schools. However, we demonstrate how low-income and students and families of color do not necessarily have a choice within this free marketplace and unfortunately still end up in the lowest performing and least-resourced schools. We conclude with examples of ways in which districts are implementing school choice policies from a racial equity framework that ensures quality schooling is provided to all students no matter their race, socioeconomic status, or zip code.

Students, families, and community members of color are often left out of the decision-making process when their neighborhood school is slated to be closed. In Chapter 4, “The Racial Politics of School Closure and Community Response,” we provide examples of ways in which local school parents and community activists across the country are organizing to keep their schools open, and what district and school administrators can learn from communities of color’s fight for racial justice for their neighborhood schools. It is assumed that closing a school will give its students opportunities to transfer to higher quality schooling options, but we present research that suggests the opposite happens as it is Black and Latinx students and families who bear the burden of the negative effects that come with school closure. Following our analysis of school closure, we provide recommendations for how educational leadership should be envisioned as a collective effort among administrators, parents, teachers, and students working to put an end to disproportionately closing schools in Black and Latinx communities.

In Chapter 5, “Standardized Testing and the Racial Implications of Data Use,” we critically examine the most recent iteration of the Elementary Secondary Education Act (ESEA), the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). Although ESSA claims to emphasize equity more so than its predecessor, No Child Left Behind (NCLB), we demonstrate how the execution of equity under ESSA is still color-evasive, market-driven, and in some ways not a departure from the test-driven accountability system designed under NCLB. What differentiates ESSA from its predecessor is that the policy gives states the flexibility to design standards and assessments tailored to their students’ needs. We give recommendations for how state and district level leaders can use the flexibility that ESSA provides to implement more anti-racist approaches to data-driven decision-making to improve student learning opportunities and outcomes. Then, in Chapter 6, “School Funding and the Need for Resource Redistribution,” we examine the relationship of race and school funding by exploring how school finance has been litigated over time in the U.S. and how this has impacted current school funding policies and structures. Since the Great Recession of 2008, educational leaders feel immensely constrained when making decisions about how to best distribute funds and resources to their districts and schools. Most states use school funding systems that rely heavily on local property taxes to fund education that benefits property-wealthy districts, resulting in growing economic inequality between schools and districts in the U.S. that also coincides with existing racial disparities. After our analysis of school funding policies, we provide examples of how educational leaders can design more race-conscious solutions that dare to redistribute and restructure funding and resources to redress existing racial inequities.

In Chapter 7, “Racism and School Discipline: From Schools to Prison, or Schools As a Prison,” we discuss the racial implications of exclusionary discipline practices and look at two specific educationpolicy issues: zero tolerance policies and the role of policing and the criminalization of students of color in schools. Students of color, and Black students in particular, are not only disciplined at much higher rates than their peers but the discipline is more frequent and severe. These disciplinary actions place students on a path that significantly alters their academic and life trajectories and perpetuates what we know as the school-to-prison pipeline. In this chapter we look at how strategies such as Response to Intervention (RTI) and Positive Behavior Intervention Supports (PBIS) seek to offer better alternatives to exclusionary discipline practices but in reality often uphold what student behavior “should” look like, which is centered around white norms. We conclude the chapter by offering recommendations for more anti-racist discipline practices.

Finally, in our concluding Chapter 8, “A Protocol for Anti-Racist Policy Decision-Making in Educational Leadership,” we propose an antiracist policy decision-making protocol educational leaders can use to inform their practices when they confront color-evasive, market-driven policies. In Chapters 1 through 7 we help readers become more racially aware of how a number of color-evasive, market-driven educational policies and practices operate in school systems. Still, we want readers to use their newfound race-consciousness to then take action to avert the potential inequities these policies cause when implemented. To engage in more race-conscious processes, school leaders must lead their staff in developing a vision and common language for what it means to achieve racial equity in school policy, improvement, and practice (Welton et al., 2015), and so we see the protocol we developed as a tool that school leaders can use to accomplish this goal. Our protocol is similar to an equity audit process (Frattura & Capper, 2007; View et al., 2016) where educators work in teams to engage in a cycle of inquiry that involves examining where inequities exist within their district and/or schools and why. However, our decision-making tool helps leaders place race front and center. We also draw from a number of policy analysis models that provide educational leaders with strategies for policy implementation that are equitable and just (Kyser, Skelton, Warren, & Whiteman, 2016; Macey, Thorius, & Skelton, 2012; Rallis et al., 2008), discussing how these tools inform our anti-racist decision-making protocol.

Note: We follow the lead of scholars such as Matias, Viesca, Garrison-Wade, Tandon, & Galindo (2014) and Dumas (2016) and do not capitalize ‘white’ throughout the book as a way to challenge its oppressive nature. We only capitalize ‘white’ and ‘whiteness’ if they are presented as such in a direct quote. We capitalize Black throughout the book as we believe Black represents a racial identity group much like African American (and the two are often used synonymously) and as such deserves to be capitalized.

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