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Bianca Baldridge is an associate professor of education with expertise in community-based education and critical youth work practice at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. Baldridge’s research explores the sociopolitical context of community-based youth work and critically examines the confluence of race, class, and gender and their impact on educational reforms that shape community-based spaces engaging Black and Latinx youth in the US. In addition, she explores the organizational and pedagogical practices employed by youth workers amid educational reforms and restructuring.
Baldridge’s book, Reclaiming Community: Race and the Uncertain Future of Youth Work (Stanford University Press), examines how racialized market-based reforms undermine Black community-based organizations’ efforts to support comprehensive youth development opportunities. Her book received the 2019 American Educational Studies Association Critic’s Choice Book Award. With the support of the National Academy of Education/Spencer Foundation Postdoctoral Fellowship program, Baldridge studied how racial discourse shapes community-based spaces that engage Black youth in predominantly white cities that espouse a liberal and progressive ethos. Her current research examines 1) broader issues of equity facing the out-of-school time sector nationally, 2) the precarity of youth work profession and 3) how Black community-based youth organizations respond to city change and displacement fueled by gentrification, educational restructuring, and displacement.
Baldridge’s research appears in the American Educational Research Journal, Review of Research in Education, Teachers College Record, Educational Researcher, and Race, Ethnicity, and Education. In addition, her experiences as a community-based youth worker in domestic and international contexts, continue to inform her research in profound ways. As a former youth worker for over 20 years, Baldridge has worked with several OST networks, non-profit organizations and facilitates communities of practice with youth workers across the country to sustain justice-oriented and humanizing youth work practices.
This study foregrounds the significance of the socio-political context of community-based education spaces (CBES) and youth work, including examining how race logics and economic pressures inform the construction of CBES and how these forces surface and intersect with market logic and educational policy reform (Author, 2020). Examining and accounting for the sociopolitical context of community-based youth work is essential to understanding (1) how community-based youth work shapes and is shaped by social context and (2) how those engaged in community-based youth work respond to, adapt to, and make sense of changing city contexts. The impact of neoliberal education restructuring (as part of the broader political economy of urban education) (Lipman, 2011a) is well-documented: massive school closures in cities like Chicago and New Orleans and the subsequent influx of for-profit charter management companies and rezoning laws result in students crossing boundaries to attend schools (e.g., Buras, 2011; Ewing, 2018; Green et al., 2019 Henry & Dixson; 2016; Johnson, 2010, 2017; Lipman, 2011b; Shedd, 2015; Stovall, 2016; Sanders et al., 2018). Growing work on gentrification and its subsequent displacement of those living in poverty and Black people has sparked battles over school choice, school belonging, and the right to space (Davis & Oakley, 2013; Henry, 2019; Hwang, 2015; Posey-Maddox et al., 2014). The role that educational policy plays in gentrification and shifting neighborhood institutions impacts youths educational experiences and outcomes (Johnson, 2017). However, we know less about how this form of restructuring contributes to the vulnerability of communities by displacing and weakening CBES.
Associate Professor Bianca Baldridge explores the unique impact of learning beyond school