Anne Galletta and Jennifer Ayala
Cleveland State University
Saint Peter’s College
Documenting Disappearing Spaces: Erasure and Remembrance in Two High School Closures
In our paper we explore the psychological and structural dimensions of school closure and link these dimensions to the notion of erasure. Drawing on research from the Northeast and the Midwest, we contrast the closing of a high school in the 1990’s with that of a more recent high school closure, each reflecting different origins and levels of community involvement. Our discussion of study findings emphasizes the striking differences between the nature of school closure in these two sites, while underscoring how erasure operated in both, particularly within an increasingly high-stakes school accountability climate. Influenced by Apfelbaum’s (2000) discussion of the obligation of remembrance and Fulillove’s (2004) reflection on “root shock” in urban renewal processes, we understand erasure as a deeply psychological response to failure of some kind and conflict stemming from that failure. We conclude by reexamining the notion of productive conflict as a necessary element in educational change.
Anne is a social psychologist who collaborates with educators, youth, & community members in research and action toward addressing serious local and regional issues.
Jennifer Ayala is an Associate Professor in the School of Education at Saint Peter’s College, in Jersey City, NJ. Her research focuses on borderland theories, education, and participatory action research with high school and college age youth primarily in urban settings.