The landscape of education “reform” in Chicago: Neoliberalism meets a grassroots movement


  • Pauline Lipman



urban education, neoliberalism, anti-Black state violence, resistance, race


This article examines the dialectics of Chicago’s neoliberal education policies and the grassroots resistance that parents, teachers, and students have mounted against them. Grounding the analysis in racial capitalism and neoliberal urban restructuring, I discuss interconnections between neoliberal urban policy, racism, and education to clarify what is at stake for communities resisting Chicago’s policies. The paper describes deep and pervasive racial inequities, school closings, privatization, and disenfranchisement driving organized opposition and the labor-community alliance at the center of organized resistance. I argue that neoliberal education policy is racialized state violence, and education is a battleground for racial justice and Black self-determination. I conclude with observations on Chicago’s experience so far that might be useful in other contexts.



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Author Biography

Pauline Lipman

Pauline Lipman is Professor of Educational Policy Studies and Director of the Collaborative for Equity and Justice in Education at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Her multi-disciplinary research focuses on the political economy of urban education, particularly the inter-relationship of education policy, neoliberal urban restructuring, and the politics of race. She is the author of numerous journal articles and book chapters. Her most recent book is The New Political Economy of Urban Education: Neoliberalism, Race, and the Right to the City. Pauline is a core member of Teachers for Social Justice, which organizes with parents, teachers, students, and community organizations for education justice. She is co- author of the Data and Democracy Project and other community-collaborative research projects.




How to Cite

Lipman, P. (2017). The landscape of education “reform” in Chicago: Neoliberalism meets a grassroots movement. Education Policy Analysis Archives, 25, 54.



Restructuring and Resisting Education Reforms in Chicago’s Public Schools