School choice or the politics of desperation? Black and Latinx parents of students with dis/abilities selecting charter schools in Chicago

Federico R. Waitoller, Gia Super


In this paper, we focus on the city of Chicago to examine how Black and Latinx parents of students with dis/abilities engage with school choice. Using analytical tools from grounded theory (Strauss & Corbin, 1990) and a theoretical lens informed by critical notions of space, race and dis/ability, we analyze interviews with parents of students with dis/abilities, field notes, and various artifacts from charter schools (e.g., student handbooks and websites). We found that parents engaged with the politics of desperation (Stovall, 2013): an assemblage of thoughts and rationales to make school decisions amid poor and ableist educational options for Black and Latinx students with dis/abilities. We found that the neoliberal restructuring of urban education space was a driving force shaping parents’ engagement with the politics of desperation. Thus, our study sheds light on the relationship between race, dis/ability, and urban spatial restructuring.




special education; disabilities; school choice, political economy, urban studies, charter schools

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Copyright (c) 2019 Federico R. Waitoller, Gia Super


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