Many school districts have recently revised, or tried to revise, their policies for assigning students to schools, because the legal and political status of racial and other kinds of diversity is uncertain, and the districts are facing fiscal austerity. This article presents case studies of politics and student assignment policy in three large school districts: Boston, Massachusetts; Wake County (Raleigh), North Carolina; and Jefferson County (Louisville), Kentucky. In all three districts, there has been pressure to change student-assignment policies in ways that respond to the priorities of White and middle-class populations, with the potential to worsen the options available to students of color. Our case studies reinforce the criticisms of race-neutral politics and policy that have been made by Eduardo Bonilla-Silva and others. Race-neutral politics during fiscal retrenchment tends to reframe privilege as common sense and to obscure some students’ structural disadvantages.
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