Charter Schools and Urban Regimes in Neoliberal Context: Making Workers and New Spaces in Metropolitan Atlanta


In this article, we demonstrate the neoliberalism and multiscalar economic perspective of the charter school movement in Atlanta, Georgia, through examination of news articles and editorials about charter schools in the Atlanta Journal‐Constitution from 1998 to 2004. We posit three interrelated dynamics which explain the editorial board’s interest in charter schools as part of a broader urban regime agenda. First, charter schools represent part of a neoliberal shift in education that parallels shifts in urban governance, emphasizing flexibility, public–private partnerships, and ‘market’‐oriented consumer choice and accountability. Second, the newspaper is issuing a challenge to educational structures, to adopt more neoliberal policies and shed a bureaucratic, liberal governance framework. Finally, we find critical evidence that the charter school movement draws on a multiscalar discourse which simultaneously references responsiveness to local, neighborhood needs, and at the same time highlights the economic imperatives of a global, competitive city to differentially skill students/workers in order to capture mobile and fractured (global) capital.