Dissertations, Theses, and Capstone Projects

Date of Degree


Document Type


Degree Name



Liberal Studies


Michelle Fine

Subject Categories

Curriculum and Social Inquiry | Disability and Equity in Education | Educational Sociology | Education Policy | Politics and Social Change | Secondary Education | Special Education and Teaching | Student Counseling and Personnel Services | Urban Studies | Work, Economy and Organizations


school choice, education policy, autoethnography, social movements


In New York City, all eighth graders attending public school must apply for high school. They have 400 schools from which to choose, and they must create a ranked list of twelve choices. They are then matched to one school. The results of this process play a large role in creating one of the most segregated and unequal school systems in the country. In “Caring choices? Supporting and dreaming with students in New York City’s stratifying high school admissions system,” I share an autoethnographic account that spans ten years of work as an activist educator striving both to support students and families in choice-making and to build political pressure for systemic change. Dipping into my own educational history, the story begins alongside my first 8th grade students in 2009, and ends with stories of celebration and growing solidarity within the current youth-led movement for school integration. Honest story-sharing, intersectional solidarities that centralize racial and disability justice lenses, changing logics of choice-making that foreground community care, and radical pedagogies all offer steps forward towards the creation and implementation of a transformative vision for our students.