Control of the 'Almighty Dollar': Power, Religion and Race in Polarized Suburbs (John Sipple)
This is a project to chronicle Jon Sipple's experience as one of three “experts” hand-picked by the state to study a “troubled” school district in Rockland County, New York first made famous in 2014 on This American Life. The community is fractured along religious, racial, legal and fiscal lines. A rapidly growing Ultra-Orthodox population in a traditionally integrated upper middle-class suburb moved through a democratic process to gain control of the local school board in 2006, though not without accusations of substantial voter fraud. While issues of community polarization, demographic change, and democracy are intertwined in complex and challenging ways in this case, there are many parallels to the challenges our nation faces today. This project involves continued coding of data collected in Rockland County with undergraduate research assistants in the Department and brainstorming the various useful and productive conceptualizations that may help guide the writing of a book about that experience.