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Documenting Disappearing Spaces

Documenting Disappearing Spaces

Abstract

As school closures are on the rise across the nation, it becomes important to study these disappearing spaces. We frame the recent rash of school closings and their impact on communities through the concept of erasure, which we see as the uprooting of a particular space to make room for innovation. In this article, we consider such examples of erasure, ghosts of institutional memory, and remembrance in disappearing or reconstituted sites: specifically, 2 high schools. We discuss commonalities and differences in the ways in which these concepts manifest across these 2 sites, the first taking place in the Northeast in the mid-1990s as reflective of community-led activism and teacher union collaboration and the second in the Midwest 10 years into federal and state school accountability reform efforts, where school closure is one of several interventions for schools struggling academically. Both sites were informed by methods that have participatory elements, an action orientation, and a deeply critical and historical lens. Influenced by discussion of the obligation of remembrance and reflection on “root shock” in urban renewal processes, we understand erasure as a deeply psychological response to failure and conflict. We conclude by reexamining the notion of productive conflict as a necessary element in educational change.
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