This article analyzes the role of STEM initiatives designed by city and corporate elites in a large urban district and outlines an alternative, grassroots vision for (STEM) education and city schools. Within a neoliberal context of gentrification, displacement, disinvestment, and privatization, STEM schools have become strategic components of Chicago’s ‘portfolio district’ that serve the interests of racial capitalism in three ways. First, STEM schools provide a claim to fairness in the midst of racist school closures. Second, STEM high schools are a corporate strategy for racially stratified labor force preparation that restricts curriculum and reifies tracking. Third, curriculum restriction prioritizes corporate interests over students’ capacity to shape their communities and the world. The authors draw on the wisdom of Chicago communities who have led resistance against corporate education reform to critique Chicago STEM policy and point to critical mathematics and science education as part of a model for sustainable community schools.