Volume 24, Issue 2, 2014
Peace, Justice, and Education
Dr. Jerusha Conner, Katherine Cosner
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.