Date of Degree

9-2017

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Ph.D.

Program

Urban Education

Advisor(s)

Anthony Picciano

Committee Members

Nicholas Michelli

David Bloomfield

Subject Categories

Other Education

Keywords

charter schools, New York City, charter school governance, privatization

Abstract

This dissertation examines the extent to which corporate players and interests are represented on New York City charter school boards by collecting and analyzing board member data for all approved charters as of January 2013. The affiliations of individuals sitting on charter school and charter management organization boards are identified. The implications of those affiliations as well as their potential to affect school governance are explored within a modern educational landscape in which policy-making favors market-based approaches and provides new entry points for profiteering. The empirical analysis and conceptual framework for this study are informed by research on interlocking directorates as well as on more contemporary forms of power, or “flex-nets,” situated within social networks. The results show that individuals tied to corporations – particularly hedge funds and other financial organizations – fill a significant number of charter school board seats, especially in comparison to parents, teachers and community members without those ties. Many of these board members have explicit ties to each other as well as affiliations with charter advocacy organizations, political action committees, and niche markets working behind the scenes to shore up pro-market education reforms. The study explores the potential ramifications of their dominance over charter schools, and proposes that financiers and their networks may stand to benefit more from charter school proliferation than schoolchildren and local communities. Findings suggest that students in many of the charter schools across New York City are being trained for lives of relegation and regulation by the keepers of power, rather than its skeptics.

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