Collections > Electronic Theses and Dissertations > A Site of Resistance and/or Reclamation? The Role of the Black Church in the Charter School Movement
pdf

The struggle for equitable educational opportunities for students of color and those from low income families began well before the seminal Brown case, and continues with each new wave of education reform. The charter school movement is one such reform rapidly expanding across the United States and often targeting students from low-income communities of color (Berends, 2013; Reardon, 2011). Black churches have traditionally played a significant role in the education of African Americans (Billingsley, 1999; Lincoln & Mamiya, 1990; Pinn & Pinn, 2002), and have become increasingly involved in the charter movement. To date, there has been little scholarly investigation into the nature of this involvement.  Through a set of three studies, this dissertation examines nine predominantly Black churches and the ways they have mobilized as sites of resistance and/or reclamation of Black education through the charter school movement. Article 1 examines the types of Black church participation in the charter movement, and Article 2 examines discursive claims around their reasons and motivations for becoming involved. Finally, Article 3, a related case study, examines a coalition of Black clergy that mobilized politically to defeat legislation that would have expanded the reach of charter schools in Georgia. Preliminary findings suggest that Black church participation in the charter movement falls into four categories: political mobilization, parent and community education, creation and engagement of school choice-related coalitions, and “birthing” and/or supporting charter schools. There appear to be two emerging discourses regarding motivations for becoming involved in the charter school movement: health of the church and community revitalization. These discourses are not currently included in the literature on African-Americans’ motivations for supporting school choice, and further research is necessary to determine the extent to which they are pervasive across Black faith communities. Finally, the related case study reveals that key strategies of Black church political mobilization in the charter school movement include data mining and problem identification, resource employment, coalition building, and celebration, debriefing, and re-engagement.