The empirical focus of this book is on the twenty year struggle by parents and members of the Black community in Toronto to introduce an Africentric Alternative School (AAS) with Black-focused curricula.
It brings together a seemingly disparate series of events that emerged from equity and multicultural narratives about the establishment of the school – violence, anti-racism and race-based statistics, policy entrepreneurs, and the re-birth of alternative schools in Toronto - to illustrate how these events ostensibly functioned through neoliberal choice mechanisms and practices.
Gulson and Webb show how school choice can represent and manifest the hopes and fears, contestations and settlements of contemporary racial biopolitics of education in multicultural cities.
The chapter provides readers with a brief background to the study, including an orientation to the theoretical and methodological approaches used in the research. The chapter outlines how the book is organized, including brief introductions to each of the six chapters that comprise the book. The chapter concludes by informing readers about the purpose of each subtext that accompanies each chapter, and the reasons for reflecting and problematizing each chapter.
This chapter examines the shooting deaths of several young Black men from 1988-2007 and how these deaths produced a spectrum of affects for those working to develop the school. This affective spectrum would coalesce with other feelings of empowerment and safety produced by the governing and patterned sequences of neoliberalism and biopolitics. The shootings accelerated the becoming of the school, and specifically, how the school settled into an established array of dispositifs concerned with recognition, difference, and safety. The chapter maps the policy landscape that used and perpetuated these specific dispositifs, largely products of anti-racist literatures. The second half of the chapter maps how Toronto District School Board Trustees used - and were used by - these dispositifs. The chapter concludes with showing how Trustees altered anti-racist dispositifs in favour of the ascendent logics of economic and educational choice. Trustees were simultaneously constituted by the ensemble of anti-racist dispositifs but in ways that accommodated and reinforced the policy mechanisms of educational choice and neoliberal ideas of freedom, understood as unfettered access to (quasi) educational markets.
This chapter examines the event of finding a location for the school, and examine the connections between the ways in which the city was (and is) racialized and undergoing urban change around gentrification and the rebranding of neighbourhoods. The question about ‘where to put the Black school in the White city’ would produce strong feelings across Toronto given its long and troubled histories with placements of non-White populations (and in relation to each other). The argument within is based upon the idea that the question of location affected the entire process of the becoming of the school rather than just at the ‘end’ of a rational and sequential process. That is, the question ‘haunted’ Trustees and community members prior to any governance and policy-development activities designed to produce the school.
The first chapter introduces and discusses the theoretical choices of the book. The chapter introduces how education policy can be thought of in ways consistent with the philosophical and historical ideas of an event. Through the idea of an event, the chapter discusses the ideas of race and racism, recognition and representation, cities and neoliberalism, biopolitics, and eventalisation.
This chapter connects race-based violence, ideas of counting and race-based statistics, with ideas about racial biopolitics. The focus is on two events. The first is a 2008 a report into school safety, the Falconer Report, which urged for the use of ‘race-based statistics’ in the Toronto District School Board (TDSB), which reignited the overall move towards Black-focused schooling. We connect this report, and its plea to use race-based statistics in discipline related incidents in schooling, to racial profiling and policing in Toronto in the early 2000s. The chapter concludes with the TDSB decision in 2004-5, to collect race-based statistics, as a second policy event that preceded the Falconer Report.
The final chapter concludes the book by examining some of the effects of problematizing ideas of race, racism, equity and so forth, and explicitly takes on the challenges that emerge when education policy is constituted by contradiction, incompleteness, and indeterminacy. The chapter revisits the key concepts of the book (events, biopolitics, race, cities, neoliberalism, difference) and places them within variegated histories of inequality and what alternatives policy scholars might consider in relation to these histories, and potential futures.