Middle grades education has been the object of efforts to remediate US education to address an array of social problems. Districts have sought out K-8 models to create smaller learning communities, require fewer school transitions, and allow sustained student connections. This paper offers a historical analysis of K-8 schools, drawing on statistical and spatial methods and a DisCrit intersectional lens to illustrate how creating K-8 schools produced enclaves of privilege in one urban school district. K-8 schools in our target district became whiter and wealthier than district averages. Students with disabilities attending K-8 schools tended to be placed in more inclusive classrooms, where they were more likely to be integrated alongside nondisabled peers than counterparts attending traditional middle schools. We consider how the configuration of K-8 schools, which could be considered an administrative decision to better serve students, has obscured interworkings of power and privilege.
- critical race spatial analysis
- disability studies
- K-8 education
- special education history
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