In “Charter Schools as the Counterpublics of Disenfranchised Communities” Rofes and Stulberg discuss charter schools by using the theories of educational theorist Pierre Borudieu to illustrate how social classes are reproduced through schooling. Rofes uses Bourdieu’s argument that the “habitus” of the privileged classes is reaffirmed through the organization, interactions, language, and curriculum of systemized schooling. (247) Thus, the success of students within privileged classes is guaranteed. Rofes also alludes to the fact that privileged students bring “social capital” to the classroom which is what schools are ultimately trying to instill in their students. Therefore, privileged students start with a distinct advantage over poor students who lack social capital, and a system of reproduction is confused for a system of meritocracy. Within this system, schools do not promote social mobility (what we’re told they do), but instead provide certification for the outside capital that privileged students bring into the classroom.
Later in the chapter the idea of choice is described as the most central mechanism by which “symbolic violence” occurs. It is seen as a way that dominated classes continued to be dominated without the need for enforcement by the dominant class."(251) While aiming to assist their life chances, the opening up of school choice options serves simply as a mechanism for the dominated classes to guarantee their own domination." (253) This idea of choice discretely funnels masses of people into social classes. Once in these social classes people internalize the blame in an effort to explain how they got there. When looking at school choice and its affect on IBI's Bush takes a long look at the relationship between IBI's and choice. He realizes that charter schools and the voucher system pose a tremendous threat to IBI's due to their political backing. This leads Bush to conclude that charter schools and the voucher system will most likely lead to the demise of IBI's; however he sees the risk as a risk worth taking due to the fact that the levels of African American students failing is the ultimate concern.
When analyzing how Bourdieu would change the schooling system in the United States, Rofes suggests that we should develop a form of public education that will avoid reproducing the status quo. Within this system charter schools would act as "mechanisms of resistance" as opposed to mechanisms of reproduction. These charter schools as mechanisms of resistance would have two main tasks. The first would be to develop strong academic skills without basing those academic skills on the culture of the dominant class. The second is that they instill a critical consciousness of how "power circulates, cultural groups and communities are valued and devalued, and capitalism functions as a colonizing force."(257)
I believe that the idea of social capital and its role in our schooling system today is one that needs to be addressed. There is no reason why students of privileged classes should be given any bigger of an advantage over poor students. We constantly hear how "education is the number one way to access social mobility" however, it continues to reproduce inequality. Funneling certain groups of people into low social classes instead of giving them access to the upper classes. If we ever want education to have the capability of providing social mobility for people we must level the playing field. The idea of eliminating social capital from the classroom is one of many things we must do if we truly want to grant equal opportunity in schools.