Date of Award

Spring 2017

Document Type

Restricted Thesis

Terms of Use

© 2017 Summer Johnson. All rights reserved. Access to this work is restricted to users within the Swarthmore College network and may only be used for non-commercial, educational, and research purposes. Sharing with users outside of the Swarthmore College network is expressly prohibited. For all other uses, including reproduction and distribution, please contact the copyright holder.

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts


Educational Studies Department, Sociology & Anthropology Department

First Advisor

Nina Johnson

Second Advisor

Roseann Liu


Conversations about gentrification and urban economic policy addressing the topic of revitalization often neglect to think about the role of the public and private educational institutions like universities and schools in the development of neighborhoods. Economic policy and educational policy are usually discussed separately and without much consideration for one another by policy makers. This thesis seeks to highlight the ways in which schools contribute and respond to neighborhood change by worsening social inequality by limiting access to well-resourced public schools to the most privileged families. With perspectives from parents and administrators at Penn Alexander School in West Philadelphia, a public-private partnership K-8 school started in 2001 as part of an initiative by the University of Pennsylvania to attract more middle-income families, this project speaks to the role that Penn Alexander has had in reshaping the surrounding urban space by highlighting the perspectives of new and old residents alongside literature on the relationship between schools and gentrification to emphasize the importance of education when thinking about how neighborhoods change.