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Journal for Peace and Justice Studies

Volume 24, Issue 2, 2014

Peace, Justice, and Education

Dr. Jerusha Conner, Katherine Cosner
Pages 27-49

School Closure as Structural Violence and Stakeholder Resistance as Social Justice

Although school closure has become an increasingly common reform strategy in urban centers across the country, little research has examined its efficacy. This article argues that school closure policy imposes a form of structural violence on already oppressed students and perpetuates direct, interpersonal violence in school settings. In the wake of mass school closures in Philadelphia, we find that schools slated for closure offered safer learning environments than the schools to which displaced students were sent, both during the year prior to and the year following closure. At the same time, in the receiving schools, reports of violence significantly increased during the first year of receivership. Despite these dehumanizing conditions, those adversely affected by this policy have organized around alternative legislative options, which hold the promise of disrupting the cycle of oppression and violence that neoliberal school reforms, like school closure, maintain. These policy alternatives represent positive peace and advance equity-oriented, socially just educational change.

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