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excerpted from: Steven L. Nelson, Racial Subjugation by Another Name? Using the Links in the School-to-Prison Pipeline to Reassess State Takeover District Performance, 9 Georgetown Journal of Law & Modern Critical Race Perspectives 1 (Spring, 2017) (219 Footnotes)(Full Document)


StevenLNelsonScholars have historically considered the federal government an aid in the pursuit of educational equity. Through implementation of education policies, chiefly the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), the federal government has demanded that states make affirmative efforts to assure access to more and better educational opportunities for marginalized communities. Nevertheless, disparate educational, social, and occupational outcomes for black students, parents and communities persist, despite over fifty years of federal intervention into education policy, an area of jurisdiction reserved for states in the Constitution. In response to the consistent and persistent failure of the federal and state governments to provide equitable educational access for black students, recent federal policy has sought to mete out dire punishments for states, school districts, and schools that do not meet minimal expectations of student achievement, measured chiefly by student test scores on standardized tests. One of the more, if not most, dire consequences under contemporary education reform policy is the state takeover of a school district's public schools. Though this consequence is seldom used, its usage is increasing and predominately minority districts are disproportionately targeted for state takeover. In many cases, state takeovers of public schools result in the replacement of black policy brokers with white policy brokers.

A long line of literature suggests that better descriptive representation (the presence of black policymakers) increases substantive representation (the ability to pass policies beneficial to black stakeholders). If this literature is correct, the replacement of locally elected black policymakers with state-appointed white policymakers may jeopardize the achievement of black students in state takeover districts. This Article examines the impact of state takeover districts on student discipline in three predominately black cities with predominately black elected school boards. In particular, this Article compares the use of various disciplinary methods in state takeover districts and schools governed by popularly elected school boards in those same jurisdictions. The consideration of disciplinary disparities in state takeover versus locally governed districts is important given the vast amount of research supporting the claim that the disparate use of harsh discipline stymies the educational, social, and occupational trajectories of black students. Ultimately, this Article argues that the state takeover of locally governed schools in predominately black communities fails to enhance movements towards educational equity and that Critical Race Theory is an appropriate framework for understanding the limits of education reform policy in relation to the advancement of educational equity.

This Article will proceed in fourteen parts.

Part II of this Article will discuss the impact of education reform--through state takeovers of locally governed schools--on student outcomes.

Part III will review literature that discusses whether state takeovers of locally governed schools are properly situated in the context of quality education as a civil right.

Part IV then focuses on whether education reform strategies impact or allow gentrification.

Part V reviews the literature that connects decreased school board representation for historically and contemporaneously marginalized groups to education reform.

Part VI uses a review of pertinent literature to connect education reform strategies, such as state takeovers of locally governed schools, to increased occurrences of harsh disciplinary practices against black students. Part VII explains why the study of the impact of state takeovers of public schools is necessary and appropriate.

Parts VIII-XI provide the statistical background of the assessment of the role of state takeover districts in enhancing access points in the school-to-prison pipeline for black students.

Part XII discusses the role of recent federal education policy in correcting previous policies that enlarged the school-to-prison pipeline.

Part XIII links this study to the field of Critical Race Theory, which provides a framework for analyzing the results of this Article.

Finally, Part XIV provides a brief conclusion.