Molly Vollman Makris

Associate Professor of Urban Studies, CUNY-Guttman Community College

About Molly

Makris's research focuses on urban education policy, charter schools, public housing, and gentrification. Overarching themes in Makris's writing include educational and housing inequality and segregation.


Focus on Students Not Standardized Testing

In the News

Opinion: "Readying Students for the AI Revolution," Molly Vollman Makris (with Nate Mickelson and Ryan Coughlan), Inside Higher Ed, April 27, 2023.
Opinion: "For ‘Happiness-Oriented Parents,’ It’s Not All About the Academics," Molly Vollman Makris (with Allison Roda ), The74, April 3, 2023.
Opinion: "Rescue Our Cities and Towns," Molly Vollman Makris (with Mary Gatta), The Progressive, February 12, 2021.
Opinion: "Give Teachers Gift: Rethinking Tests," Molly Vollman Makris, Asbury Park Press, May 10, 2020.
Opinion: "Cuomo’s Crazy Gates-led ‘Reimagining’ of Public Education," Molly Vollman Makris, New York Daily News, May 6, 2020.
Opinion: "The Segregating Effects of School Choice Policies," Molly Vollman Makris (with Allison Roda), The Philadelphia Inquirer, October 20, 2019.
Opinion: "We Study School Choice and Gentrification. Here’s How New York City Should Prepare for Amazon," Molly Vollman Makris (with Allison Roda, Alisha Butler, and Bradley Quarles), Chalkbeat, January 17, 2019.
Opinion: "School Choice, the Right Way: Think Smartly and Compassionately About How to Find the Best Education for your Child," Molly Vollman Makris (with Allison Roda), New York Daily News, December 17, 2018.


"Integration Versus Meritocracy? Competing Educational Goals During the COVID-19 Pandemic" (with Elise Castillo and Mira Debs). Aera 7 (2021).

Examines how New York City activists conceptualized educational equity during the pandemic. Integration activists emphasized school integration for democratic equality; and meritocratic activists prioritized retaining the existing stratified system mainly to foster social mobility and social efficiency.

"Gentrification Down the Shore" (with Mary Gatta) (Rutgers University Press, 2020).

Tells an important and nuanced tale of gentrification using an intersectional lens to examine the history of race relations, the too often overlooked history of the postindustrial city, the role of the LGBTQ population, barriers to employment and access to amenities, and the role of developers as the city rapidly changes.

"Public Housing and School Choice in a Gentrified City: Youth Experiences of Uneven Opportunity." (Palgrave Macmillan, 2016).

Explores an interdisciplinary approach to urban education policy to examine the formal education and physical environment of young people from low-income backgrounds and demonstrate how gentrification shapes these circumstances. This is a case study of Hoboken, NJ.

"School Development in Urban Gentrifying Spaces: Developers Supporting Schools or Schools Supporting Developers?" (with Elizabeth Brown). Journal of Urban Affairs (2017).

Describes the intersection of public and private interests in the context of education in a gentrified urban area. This empirical example demonstrates the ongoing neoliberalization of public education and the ways in which public subsidies and institutions (such as charter schools) can support private developers in shaping the increasing educational opportunity divide between socioeconomically advantaged and disadvantaged residents.

"Young Men of Color in New York City’s Privately Owned Public Spaces: Unexpected Findings" (with Cara Kronen and Te-Sheng Huang). Journal of Cultural Geography (2020).

This empirical study of privately owned public spaces in Manhattan centers the voices
and experiences of young men of color. The article offers an expansion upon the
conclusions of other researchers and argues that the story of corporate public space, race,
exclusion, and research into them is more complex than existing literature reveals.

"A different type of charter school: In Prestige Charters a Rise in Cachet Equals a Decline in Access." (with Elizabeth Brown). Journal of Education Policy 1 (2017).

Seeks to elucidate a specific type of charter school. Distinct from many of their counterparts, prestige charter schools have the following two features: elements which foster a reputation similar to that of elite private schools and a student population demographically distinct from local public district schools – whereby the prestige charters serve a disproportionate number of advantaged families. The prestige elements include: founding by advantaged community members; parental involvement; wait lists; popularity with advantaged professionals; high test scores; and niche themes.

"The Chimera of Choice: Gentrification, School Choice, and Community" Peabody Journal of Education (2018).

Investigates school choice in a gentrified urban context and examines the ways in which school choice as rhetoric creates false perceptions, how school-choice policies can betray the very principle they espouse, and how choice (while sought after by many) can undermine community.