Publication Date



Open access

Embargo Period


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Geography (Arts and Sciences)

Date of Defense


First Committee Member

Peter O. Muller

Second Committee Member

Thomas Boswell

Third Committee Member

Joshua Diem


Over the past decade, American public education has undergone a major transformation. Today, corporations, philanthropists, and the federal government promote and fund the charter school movement, which effectively diminishes the role of public education. Although charter schools in the United States were created with the intention of serving underprivileged students, several studies by geographers and education policy specialists have found that some of these schools have become institutions of gentrification and, in turn, establishments that reproduce social class distinctions. This thesis examines the distribution of charter schools in Washington, D.C. and New York’s borough of Brooklyn and compares charter school clusters to local spatial trends in gentrification. The methodology combines spatial, quantitative, and qualitative analyses, specifically a spatial statistical analysis of charter school clustering; a quantitative analysis of census data since 1990; and a qualitative assessment of the literature on gentrification and charter schools as it applies to these study areas. The findings indicate a growing trend in school choice and gentrification as a state-sponsored method of social exclusion, dissolving public systems, and further advancing the neoliberal urban agenda.


charter schools; public education; gentrification; cluster analysis