Date of Degree


Document Type


Degree Name





Carolina Bank Munoz

Committee Members

David Brotherton

Philip Kasinitz

Ruth Milkman

Subject Categories



Education, Political Incorporation, Race, Gender, Immigration, Ethnography


My dissertation argues that key 21st century education reforms intended to improve education for Latinx and Black students are actually new mechanisms of educational inequality. I examine this trend in the suburbs where Latinx and Black populations are growing due to new immigration and gentrification. I show how state-mandated education reforms use conditional financing and coercive restructuring policies to undermine the school’s local control by tying major reforms to vital school aid and threatening it with closure. I relate this model to the Structural Adjustment Programs (SAPs) the IMF and World Bank use globally in order to coerce countries to implement neoliberal policies. I argue that “failing” schools become "Structurally Adjusted Schools." This type of school has two elements: testing and surveillance. The school teaches to the test hoping to get students to produce certain state-mandated test scores, and students experience the testing regime as repressive but inescapable. The state also requires certain student behavior metrics and the school tries to comply through student surveillance and zero-tolerance discipline. For example, tardiness results in suspension and security staff forcefully regulate student compliance. The Structurally Adjusted School marginalizes Latinx and Black youth political incorporation by engendering disenfranchisement, undermining political agency, and damaging the potential for interracial solidarity. This research exposes political incorporation as a dimension of racialized educational inequality, highlights the experiences of Latinx and Black youth in the suburbs and explains how recent education reforms diverge from previous education models.

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