Date of Award

Spring 2017

Document Type

Restricted Thesis

Terms of Use

© 2017 Madeleine Feldman. 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

Edwin Mayorga

Second Advisor

Nina Johnson


Beginning in the mid-2000s, New York State passed legislation to finance major school facility revitalization programs in its cities. In the wake of one school’s renovation in the mid-size city of Griston*, a “core group” of parents mobilized to shape their new school. Asking the question of how these parents constructed their elementary school discursively, and actually, as in the case of developing programming, I interviewed 9 parents, 4 school- and District-level administrators, and conducted a document analysis of relevant documentation. I find that in the renovation process, these parents—mostly White and middle-class—used their disproportionate social and cultural capital to mobilize for a vision of Madison Elementary as the “gem of the neighborhood.” In mobilizing for this vision—specializing the school to make it a viable choice for residents in its surrounding White, middle-class neighborhood—I argue that parents worked to accumulate structural resources for their children. Their case points to how urban and educational inequality is preserved and extended, even within a frame of “renovation."