Skip to main content

School Reputation as a Site of Struggle: An Investigation of the Impact of School Choice in Washington, DC on a Neighborhood Public School

Abstract

In this article, I draw on interviews with teachers and administrators at a secondary neighborhood public school in Washington, DC about their perceptions of how the school is viewed by external stakeholders and the impact of those perceptions within an urban education market. Extant empirical research on market forces and effects has not centrally focused on school reputation as an analytic unit to understand how public schools are impacted by school choice and competition. Utilizing reputation of place as a conceptual frame, the findings reveal that school reputation has both discursive and material impacts on urban public schools. Further, school reputation acts as a site of struggle for educators at three distinct and overlapping areas: struggle with partners, struggle with enrollment, and site of struggle with the urban space environment. Finally, the findings confirm that the logics of choice as a means for school improvement are inherently flawed. Given these findings, recommendations for teachers and leaders are offered.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

References

  1. Abel, M. H., & Sewell, J. (1999). Stress and burnout in rural and urban secondary school teachers. The Journal of Educational Research, 92(5), 287–293.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  2. Alsbury, T. (2014). Hitting a moving target: How politics determines the changing roles of superintendents and school boards. In B. Cooper, J. Cibulka, & L. Fusarelli (Eds.), Handbook of education politics and policy. London: Routledge.

    Google Scholar 

  3. Anholtt, S. (2009). Places, identity, image and reputation. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.

    Google Scholar 

  4. Au, W. (2016). Social justice and resisting neoliberal education reform in the USA. In FORUM (Vol. 58, No. 3, pp. 315–324). Symposium Journals.

  5. Ball, S. J., & Vincent, C. (1998). ‘I heard it on the grapevine’: ‘Hot’ knowledge and school choice. British Journal of Sociology of Education, 19(3), 377–400.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  6. Bartlett, L., Frederick, M., Gulbrandsen, T., & Murillo, E. (2002). The marketization of education: Public schools for private ends. Anthropology & education quarterly, 33(1), 5–29.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  7. Bell, C. A. (2007). Space and place: Urban parents’ geographical preferences for schools. The Urban Review, 39(4), 375–404.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  8. Bell, F. (2016). Looking beyond place branding: The emergence of place reputation. Journal of Place Management and Development, 9(3), 247–254.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  9. Bhattacharya, K. (2017). Fundamentals of qualitative research: A practical guide. London: Routledge.

    Book  Google Scholar 

  10. Billingham, C. M., & Hunt, M. O. (2016). School racial composition and parental choice: New evidence on the preferences of White parents in the United States. Sociology of Education, 89(2), 99–117.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  11. Bositis, D. (2004). The politics of school choice: African-Americans and vouchers. In D. Salisbury & C. Lartigue Jr (Eds.), Educational freedom in urban America (pp. 177–204). Washington, DC: Cato Institute.

    Google Scholar 

  12. Bottiani, J. H., Duran, C. A., Pas, E. T., & Bradshaw, C. P. (2019). Teacher stress and burnout in urban middle schools: Associations with job demands, resources, and effective classroom practices. Journal of School Psychology, 77, 36–51.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  13. Buras, K. (2011). Race, charter schools, and conscious capitalism: On the spatial politics of whiteness as property (and the unconscionable assault on black New Orleans). Harvard Educational Review, 81(2), 296–331.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  14. Cobb, C. D., & Glass, G. V. (2009). School choice in a post-desegregation world. Peabody Journal of Education, 84(2), 262–278.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  15. Corbin, J., & Strauss, A. (2007). Basics of qualitative research: Techniques and procedures for developing grounded theory (3rd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

    Google Scholar 

  16. Dimartino, C., & Jessen, S. B. (2018). Selling school: The marketing of public education. Teachers College Press.

  17. Gooden, M. A., Jabbar, H., & Torres, M. S., Jr. (2016). Race and school vouchers: Legal, historical, and political contexts. Peabody Journal of Education, 91(4), 522–536.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  18. Hayden, K. (2000). Stigma and place: Space, community, and the politics of reputation. In N. Denzin (Ed.), Studies in symbolic interaction (Vol. 23, pp. 219–239). Bingley: Emerald Group Publishing Limited.

    Chapter  Google Scholar 

  19. Henig, J. R., Hula, R. C., Orr, M., & Pedescleaux, D. S. (2001). The color of school reform: Race, politics, and the challenge of urban education. Princeton: Princeton University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  20. Herrmann, A. M., Burroughs, N., & Plucker, J. A. (2009). Open enrollment in K-12 public education. Education Policy Brief, 7(3), 1–8.

    Google Scholar 

  21. Holme, J. J. (2002). Buying homes, buying schools: School choice and the social construction of school quality. Harvard Educational Review, 72(2), 177–206.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  22. Horsford, S. D., Scott, J. T., & Anderson, G. L. (2018). The politics of education policy in an era of inequality: Possibilities for democratic schooling. Routledge.

  23. Jabbar, H. (2016). Selling schools: Marketing and recruitment strategies in New Orleans. Peabody Journal of Education, 91(1), 4–23.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  24. Jenkins, D. (2018). From segregation to congregation: A case study of community engaged urban school reform (Doctoral dissertation). Available from ProQuest Dissertations & Theses database.

  25. Jimerson, L. (2002). Interdistrict open enrollment: The benign choice? The Clearing House, 76(1), 16–19.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  26. Kahlenberg, R. D., & Potter, H. (2015). Restoring Shanker’s vision for charter schools. American Educator, 38(4), 4.

    Google Scholar 

  27. Kotok, S., Knight, D. S., Jabbar, H., Rivera, L. E., & Rincones, R. (2019). On becoming a district of choice: Implications for equity along the United States-Mexico border. Educational Administration Quarterly, 55, 615–656.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  28. Lipman, P. (2011). Contesting the city: Neoliberal urbanism and the cultural politics of education reform in Chicago. Discourse: Studies in the Cultural Politics of Education, 32(2), 217–234.

    Google Scholar 

  29. Lipsitz, G. (2011). How racism takes place. Philadelphia: Temple University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  30. Lubienski, C., & Lubienski, S. T. (2006). Charter schools, academic achievement and NCLB. Journal of School Choice, 1(3), 55–62.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  31. McNulty, C. P., & Roseboro, D. L. (2009). “I’m not really that bad”: Alternative school students, stigma, and identity politics. Equity & Excellence in Education, 42(4), 412–427.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  32. McWilliams, J. A. (2017). The neighborhood school stigma: School choice, stratification, and shame. Policy Futures in Education, 15(2), 221–238.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  33. Merriam, S. B. (2009). Qualitative research: A guide to design and implementation (2nd ed.). San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

    Google Scholar 

  34. Oakes, J. (1995). Two cities’ tracking and within-school segregation. Teachers College Record, 96(4), 681–690.

    Google Scholar 

  35. Orfield, G., & Ayscue, J. B. (Eds.). (2018). Discrimination in elite public schools: Investigating Buffalo. New York: Teachers College Press.

    Google Scholar 

  36. Pattillo, M. (2015). Everyday politics of school choice in the Black community. Du Bois Review: Social Science Research on Race, 12(1), 41–71.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  37. Pedroni, T. C. (2013). Market movements: African American involvement in school voucher reform. London: Routledge.

    Book  Google Scholar 

  38. Quartz, K. H., Thomas, A., Anderson, L., Masyn, K., Lyons, K. B., & Olsen, B. (2008). Careers in motion: A longitudinal retention study of role changing among early-career urban educators. Teachers College Record, 110(1), 218–250.

    Google Scholar 

  39. Rothstein, R. (2017). The color of law: A forgotten history of how our government segregated America. New York: Liveright Publishing.

    Google Scholar 

  40. Saporito, S., & Lareau, A. (1999). School selection as a process: The multiple dimensions of race in framing educational choice. Social Problems, 46(3), 418–439.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  41. Scott, J., & Holme, J. J. (2016). The political economy of market-based educational policies: Race and reform in urban school districts, 1915 to 2016. Review of Research in Education, 40(1), 250–297.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  42. Strauss, A., & Corbin, J. (1994). Grounded Theory Methodology: An Overview. In N. K. Denzin & Y. S. Lincoln (Eds.), Handbook of qualitative research (Chap. 17, pp. 273–285). Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE.

  43. Tani, S. (2001). Bad reputation–bad reality? The intertwining and contested images of a place. Fennia-International Journal of Geography, 179(2), 143–157.

    Google Scholar 

  44. Tyack, D. B. (1974). The one best system: A history of American urban education (Vol. 95). Cambridge: Harvard University Press.

    Book  Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to DeMarcus A. Jenkins.

Additional information

Publisher's Note

Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Jenkins, D.A. School Reputation as a Site of Struggle: An Investigation of the Impact of School Choice in Washington, DC on a Neighborhood Public School. Urban Rev 52, 904–923 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11256-020-00562-2

Download citation

Keywords

  • Urban education
  • School choice
  • School reputation
  • Market-based education reform