Seeking stability in Chicago: School actions, (c)overt forms of racial injustice, and the slow violence of neoliberal rationality


  • Ann M. Aviles University of Delaware
  • Jessica A. Heybach Aurora University



School closings, instability/homelessness, McKinney-Vento, white supremacy, neoliberalism


During the 2012-13 school year, Chicago Public Schools (CPS) reported 18,669 students were enrolled in the Students in Temporary Living Situations (STLS) program. In this paper, we seek to discuss school closings in relationship to their impact on poor, unstably housed, black students in Chicago. Critical race theory (CRT) constructs of (1) whiteness as property (Harris, 1995), (2) racial realism (Bell, 1992; Buras, 2013), and (3) white supremacy as education policy (Donnor, 2013; Gillborn, 2005) will be the frames in which we situate and analyze the school actions that have resulted in the recent closure/consolidation of 49 Chicago Public Schools (CPS). We contend that these constructs related to race, when mixed with neoliberal rationality (Brown, 2015) conspire to foster disastrous school policy that unduly impacts vulnerable populations and de-democratizes Chicago in profound ways. For this project, the CPS STLS program manager overseeing STLS transitions during the 2012-13/2013-14 school actions, and civil rights lawyers-advocates who have spent over two decades working to enforce McKinney-Vento implementation in CPS were interviewed. Document analysis of court records regarding three cases through which the Chicago Public Schools were named as Defendants in litigation brought forth by families (parents and students) impacted by CPS’ school actions; Chicago Teacher’s Union data and IL General Assembly’s Chicago Educational Facilities Task Force were completed. Findings reveal in order to promote equitable, and effective education policy for students of color experiencing housing instability means working against white supremacy and slow violence found throughout the US and world.


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Author Biographies

Ann M. Aviles, University of Delaware

Ann M. Aviles is assistant professor of Human Development and Family Studies in the College of Education and Human Development at the University of Delaware. Dr. Aviles’ has worked with several community based organizations to advocate for educational access, equitable funding and anti-racist systems and practices with, and for, students and families of color experiencing homelessness/poverty, incarceration, and mental health issues. Dr. Aviles’ research engagements include: examining policies, services and programs that impact the educational opportunities, material realities and mental health of youth of color experiencing homelessness/housing instability; Latina/o Education; Education Policy; Education equity; critical/justice-based teacher preparation; School-community partnerships; Critical Race Theory (CRT); Latina/o Critical Theory (LatCrit); and positive youth/community development. Dr. Aviles is the author of several publications, including a Teachers College Press publication, From Charity to Equity: Race, Homelessness and Urban Schools (2015). 

Jessica A. Heybach, Aurora University

Jessica A. Heybach is the Chairperson of the EdD Program and associate professor of education at Aurora University. Heybach's scholarly interests lie at the intersection of curriculum theory, philosophy of education and social foundations of education. Her scholarship engages how social justice, controversy, and human tragedy impact the civic identity of both students and teachers as it relates to issues of democracy and human rights. She has published journal articles in Education and Culture, Critical Questions in the Education and Philosophical Studies in Education, as well as numerous book chapters. She has co-edited the book Dystopia and Education: Insights into Theory, Praxis, and Policy in an age of Utopia-Gone-Wrong (2013) with Eric C. Sheffield. At Aurora University, Heybach currently teaches graduate courses in curriculum studies, educational research and qualitative methodology.





How to Cite

Aviles, A. M., & Heybach, J. A. (2017). Seeking stability in Chicago: School actions, (c)overt forms of racial injustice, and the slow violence of neoliberal rationality. Education Policy Analysis Archives, 25, 58.



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