The Disintegration of Memphis-Shelby County, Tennessee: School District Secession and Local Control in the 21st Century

Genevieve Siegel-Hawley, Sarah Diem, Erica Frankenberg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations

Abstract

In this qualitative case study, we explore the political impulses behind suburban secession from the 2013 Memphis-Shelby County merger, the largest school district consolidation in recent history. Decades removed from the Civil Rights Movement, during a period of stark inequality, colorblind law and policymaking, and a diminished understanding of education as a societal benefit, the central suburban rationale for secession, local control, carries new weight. It gives already privileged communities a race-neutral, legally sanctioned, and politically persuasive way to discuss resource accumulation that maps onto existing racial and economic segregation. Memphis-area lessons offer insight into an increasing number of secession struggles and enrich our understanding of how educational advantage is consolidated in the 21st-century metropolis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)651-692
Number of pages42
JournalAmerican Educational Research Journal
Volume55
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Aug 1 2018

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Education

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