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School Improvement Does Not Take Place in a Vacuum

Erin Anderson (University of Denver, USA)

Leading under Pressure

ISBN: 978-1-80117-359-9, eISBN: 978-1-80117-358-2

Publication date: 15 August 2022


This chapter analyzes data from a five-year case study of a secondary school undergoing turnaround, supported by a federal School Improvement Grant. The findings explore how neoliberal policies perpetuate structural inequities in the day-to-day activities of schools by describing how district choice and accountability policies marginalize students of color in low socioeconomic positions. Findings explore the challenges faced by school leaders in a neoliberal policy context and highlight the importance of policy context in a successful improvement effort. The complex web of neoliberal polices of choice and accountability led to lower enrollment, which decreased the school's base funding and led to a greater proportion of students with skill gaps, significant socioemotional needs and students in need of special education services. For school improvement to be successful and to close the opportunity gap, leaders must dismantle and disrupt racist systems and structures bolstered by neoliberal policies.



Anderson, E. (2022), "School Improvement Does Not Take Place in a Vacuum", Chitpin, S. and White, R.E. (Ed.) Leading under Pressure (Transforming Education Through Critical Leadership, Policy and Practice), Emerald Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 99-119.



Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2022 Erin Anderson. Published under exclusive licence by Emerald Publishing Limited