Jim Scheurich is a professor at Indiana University and a public education activist. He writes here about how School Choice is intended to destroy community.


Folks, the philosophy that charter and innovation schools are built on is that your children’s school should be individualized parental choice.  This means parents individually search across the Indy area as to where to send their children, which often means leaving their neighborhood community.  Each family or individual parent is thus on her, his, or their own and not engaged with their neighborhood community.  Also, each family or individual parent is pitted against or in competition with other similar families and parents for the so-called “better” schools.

This individualistic orientation of charters and innovation schools undermines neighborhood communities and even the possibility of neighborhood communities.   Undermining neighborhood communities, according to sociological research, increases violence, including murder.  Other research shows that building community decreases violence, including murder.

This, therefore, means that charter and innovation schools are likely one of the causes of our high murder rate in Indianapolis as the individualized school choice model is broadly undermining neighborhood communities across our city. 

Of course, building community in low income areas is not easy, but not impossible.  However, many such communities have created positive community spaces.  Given the difficulty of creating such communities, we certainly do not need more policies, like charter and innovation schools, that are threats to community and community building.

If you study the neoliberal political and economic “philosophy” behind the choice school movement, you will find a strong focus on individualism over community.  If you want to understand this movement, which is driving the creation of individualistic “choice” schools, read Democracy in chains by Nancy MacLean, a Duke historian, and then read the award winningDark money by Jane Mayer, which analyzes who the Koch brothers are as they are primary supporters of neoliberalism.  Indeed, overwhelmingly, the financial supporters of neoliberalism, the people behind the curtain, the people funding Stand for Children and the Mind Trust, are conservative to rightwing billionaires.

If you don’t believe me or think I am just some conspiracy nut, I dare you to read Democracy in chainsby the highly respected Duke historian, Nancy MacLean. I dare you.

My point is that charter and innovation schools help destroy community, which according to sociological research can lead to increased violence.


Jim Scheurich, Indianapolis Public Schools Community Coalition, a multi-racial, multi-class, citywide group of Indianapolis citizens working to reverse the takeover of our school district by those funded by white, conservative or rightwing, billionaire neoliberals. Also, an activist professor of Urban Education Studies at Indiana University – Indianapolis