A collaboration of local scholars will convene a conference on school closures on June 19 at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, PA from 8:30am-6:00pm in Stiteler Hall. Registration is open to the public and is a $15 suggested donation to be collected at the event (nobody will be turned away for lack of funds). The conference is entitled The “State of the Research” on School Closure: A Mid-Atlantic Regional Conference and will bring together researchers who are working across this range of inquiry in the mid-Atlantic region. The goal of this conference is to share findings and approaches, articulate commonalities and divergences across place, and set an agenda for ongoing research and engagement with this and other issues of urban and educational equity.
In recent years, many public school districts across the country have turned to closing schools as a way to manage declining enrollments and decreased public funding, seeking to consolidate resources so as to improve educational outcomes. These closures have inspired a range of empirical research investigating the veracity of school district claims about cost-savings and academic improvements; the short- and long-term impacts on students, families, and school stakeholders; and the relationships to broader patterns of segregation and opportunity.
The core of this symposium will be organized around a sequence of three roundtable sessions exploring different dimensions of school closures and school closure processes:
Roundtable 1: What motivates school closures?
- Demographic change across cities
- Academic achievement, education reform, charter schools
- School facilities
- State and local finance
Roundtable 2: How are school closures managed?
- Closure decision-making processes inside districts
- Protests of closure
- Participatory planning and closure processes
Roundtable 3: What happens after schools are closed?
- Student psycho-social and/or academic achievement impacts
- Missing students, lost in the transition
- Neighborhood change
- Sales, redevelopment/reuse of buildings
- Citywide/metropolitan “geographies of opportunity”
- Evaluations of district finances, school facilities, etc.
Roundtables will be followed by structured discussion on intersections between research and advocacy and methods for making research relevant and available to local communities.
Conference sponsors include Swarthmore College, Rutgers University Center for Urban Research and Education, the Department of Educational Studies at Colgate University, the University of Pennsylvania Urban Studies Program, the Bread & Roses Community Fund, and the University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Education, and the University of Pennsylvania Netter Center for Community Partnerships.