The Importance of Being “Woke”: Charter Management Organizations and the Growth of Social Consciousness as a School Quality Marker

In this qualitative study, the author investigates how Charter Management Organizations (CMOs) have shifted their public personas to appear more socially aware in response to increased societal focus on racial and social justice issues following the 2016 U.S. presidential election. The author compares the social media messaging from CMOs operating in a Northern California city during the two years before and the two years after the 2016 election. The author finds that CMOs have increased their engagement with social and political topics, like gun control and environmental concerns. However, their approach to racial issues remains largely superficial, often avoiding deeper discussions on racial equity. This paper suggests that while these CMOs adopt the language of social justice movements, this may be more about image management than a genuine commitment to addressing systemic inequalities in education. This research underscores the need to critically assess the ways in which educational organizations position themselves in relation to social and racial justice issues.

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