Power, influence, and policy in Arizona’s education market: “We’ve got to out-charter the charters”

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4 Scopus citations


Arizona’s “Wild West,” free-market education approach via school-choice policies reflects the expansion of neo-liberal reforms, which emphasize private provision and governance of public services once markets are established. Indeed, charter schools, tax credit programs for public (state) and private schools, inter-district open enrolment, and neovouchers are changing Arizona’s traditional public school systems and the communities where they are situated. It is known that new, incentivist market-based systems can result in decreased democratic school accountability and the thinning of collective democratic political actions. Further, the rapid entry and growth of not-for-profit and profit-making charter schools and education management organizations in the USA raises questions about equitable student access. It is not fully understood, however, how mature school-choice systems affect local communities “on the ground”—that is, how are school policies understood and acted out? This study employed ethnographic methods to analyze the perceptions and actions of community stakeholders in Arizona, including school leaders, teachers, parents, students, and institution and community organizers, at one district public school and in its surrounding community, including its charter schools. The author examines issues of power, since all community actors are not equally able to engage in school-choice practices.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)291-308
Number of pages18
JournalPower and Education
Issue number3
StatePublished - Nov 1 2019

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s) 2018.


  • School choice
  • charter schools
  • community organizing
  • education policy
  • privatization
  • qualitative methods

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Sociology and Political Science


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