The Real Costs of Neoliberal Education Reform: the Case of Philadelphia School Closures

Jerusha Conner *

Kelly Monahan **

Over the last decade, the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (NCLB or the Act) has proven to be a boon to the charter school industry. The law enabled districts to turn over the responsibility for running a school to a charter provider if that school has gone five years without consistently raising the test scores of students in any one subgroup or demographic category for which there are more than forty students. The student sub-groups governed by this legislation include, among others, those with special needs, English language learners, low-income students, and students of a particular racial minority. Many districts across the country have availed themselves of the charter conversion option, which the law intended as a sanction that would compel struggling schools to improve. No additional sup-port or resources were provided to these struggling schools under the law.

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* Associate Professor of Education, Villanova University.

** Graduate Student, School Counseling Program, Villanova University.

The authors gratefully acknowledge Jason Hodge and Joseph Szesko for their technical assistance and Neil Horgan for sharing his expertise.