Fighting (for) Charter School Expansion: Racial Resources and Ideological Consistency

Race, Organizations, and the Organizing Process

ISBN: 978-1-78756-492-3, eISBN: 978-1-78756-491-6

ISSN: 0733-558X

Publication date: 20 May 2019


Charter schools are an increasingly popular form of publicly funded school choice. Racially framed as a policy to narrow academic achievement and opportunity gaps, charter schools disproportionately serve Black and Latinx students. In 2016, “lifting the cap” on the number of charter schools allowed in Massachusetts became an intensely fought ballot referendum. Drawing on racial formation and resource mobilization theories, I argue that resources developed and mobilized in political campaigns or social movements have analytically relevant racial dimensions. They are “racial resources” or value-producing entities that are imbued with meaning about race categories, racial systems, and/or racial ideologies. The anti-expansion’s interracial coalition was a decisive factor in the campaign, because the coalition implemented a shared decision-making structure to develop a more robust and ideologically consistent strategy for mobilizing their racial resources. These resources include a local base of racially diverse spokespeople who brought key cultural resources – legitimacy, authenticity, and trust – to the campaign, as well as race-conscious and race-neutral message framing.




The author thanks Melissa Wooten, Dan Clawson, Cedric de Leon, Kathryn McDermott, and Joya Misra for their feedback, and her informants for their participation.


Walters, K. (2019), "Fighting (for) Charter School Expansion: Racial Resources and Ideological Consistency", Race, Organizations, and the Organizing Process (Research in the Sociology of Organizations, Vol. 60), Emerald Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 69-87.



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